Protected Forest for Rent!
Only two month after hosting the COP-13 of UNFCCC and amid of serial disasters, Government of Indonesia under Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) renew the regulation of commercial activities inside the protected forest.
This regulation is President Decree Number 2/2008 on Types and Tariff of Non-Tax Income of Utilizing the Forestry Areas for Development in addition to Forestry Activities that under the Department of Forestry and signed since February 4, 2008.
Investors per year are only have to pay around Rp 1.2 million to Rp 3 million (US$128-320) as compensation fee for each hectares of protected forest that been converted for the commercial use. The commercial activities that been allowed to utilize the protected forest areas are mining, infrastructure, telecommunication, energy, and toll-road. All activities were allowed with cheap tariff.
According the Chief of Information Center of Forestry Department, Achmad Fauzi Ma’sud, the value of tariff was the formulated by a team that across of departments, like Department of Forestry, Department of Energy and Mineral Resources, and other related departments. Fauzi said, “The value of compensation was debatable. But, government saw that it better that the prior regulation didn’t put any compensation at all”.
Hariadi Kartodiharjo, lecture of Agriculture Institute of Bogor and Chairman of National Presidium of National Forestry Commission, said the policy that cheaply rented out the forestry areas was recklessness.
Also, Kartodiharjo said that the policy is illegal. “It’s obviously against the Mining in forestry Areas Law number 19/2004. According to that law, the permission to use the protected areas is only for mining. Kartodiharjo saw that the policy was incomprehensive. He said, the policy didn’t mention specifically the party that should be the subject of utilizing the wood that took from the forest that been opened.
Some NGOs in Indonesia saw that this policy was ridiculous and weird. Rully Syumanda, Forest Campaigner of Walhi, said that the policy was beyond of logical sense. “It’s ridiculous and insensible if forest only valued as a piece of fried banana”. The compensation fee was incomparable with the price of wood from the tree that stands above it”.
National Coordinator of Mining Advocation Network (Jatam), Siti Maemunah, also said the same things. She said, the government policy was undermined the logical sense. This policy explains that the Yudhoyono administrator was not in the side of people and anti-conservation.
According to Sawit Watch, deforestation in Indonesia in 2005-2006 reached almost 2.76 million hectares. Thousands people were dying or force to be displaced because of natural disasters that caused by deforestation in the upstream. If this kind of activities was continue, the number of victim will increase.
Syamsul Ardiansyah from Institute for National and Democratic Studies (INDIES) saw that this policy was a good sample of the neocolonial policy of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This was to respond the uncertainty of international economic, particularly after financial crisis caused by subprime mortgage in United States.
Recently, to respond the financial crisis in international market, Yudhoyono had revised the national budget of 2008. They also revised the assumption of crude oil price from US$ 60 per barrels to US$ 83 per barrels. It added the deficit to Rp 54 trillion (US$ 5.7 billion) of national budget. Instead to cut off at least 15 percent of national spending, Yudhoyono also plans to increase the national income from tax and non-tax income.
Like other neocolonial regimes, Yudhoyono choose to intensify the exploitation of people and their natural resources and cost nothing to his master, which is the US imperialism.***