President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is relying on regional administrations to support his ambitious land reform and forestry policies.
However, a recent report suggests that poor natural resources management in many regions may hamper his reform agenda.
The report, released by the NGO Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), says regional administrations have failed to resolve various problems in the management of natural resources, particularly in the forestry, plantation and mining sectors.
The research was conducted from December 2016 to March 2017 in six provinces— Aceh, Riau, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan. It specifically assessed how local administrations implement the National Movement to Save Natural Resources (GNP-SDA), an initiative launched by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to improve natural resource governance.
The study looked into three GNP-SDA components: permit issuance, anticorruption mechanisms and the optimization of state revenue. The three components have six variables with dozens of questions each, such as how transparent local administrations are in publishing data and how they monitor companies’ administrative and financial compliance.
Based on interviews with the heads of relevant agencies, then ICW concluded that regional administrations were not yet committed to transparency and to implementing the GNP-SDA initiative. “Local administrations assessed through our research were not transparent, especially when they responded to our questions,” Mouna said.
Another reason for the low scores gained by local administrations, Mouna said, was that “most of them” had not intensively monitored corporate activities, as they claimed they “don’t have the necessary authority” to do so.
The study put West Sumatra in the first place in the forestry and plantation sectors, while Riau was the best in the mining sector.
Howevr, this does not mean those provinces managed natural resources well, as their scores are far below the maximum possible score, according to the ICW.
West Sumatra scored just 91 out of a maximum 180 points for the management of the forestry sector, followed by West Kalimantan and Aceh with 87 points each, South Sumatra with 62 points and East Kalimantan and Riau with 50 points each.
In the plantation sector, West Sumatra scored 90 out of a maximum possible score of 160 points, while Riau only gained 154 of 250 possible points in the mining sector.
Activists and experts consider good governance in the forestry and plantation sectors an important factor now that the government has turned to the land reform and social forestry programs to reduce economic and social in equality. “Bad governance in the regions will hamper the implementation of the agrarian reform,”Hariadi Kartodihardjo, a professor of forestry policy at the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) in West Java, told The Jakarta Post in response to ICWs findings.
Hariadi said the research showed that the Jokowi’s administration still had much work to do, arguing that good governance of natural resources at the provincial level was “a requirement for a successful agrarian reform.”
During a meetingwith tribal leaders last week, Jokowi said he had ordered regional administrations to immediately issue decrees acknowledging indigenous groups across the country — the basis for the Environment and Forestry Ministry to grant them rights over customary forests that were previously concession areas of companies.
Recently, Abetnego Tarigan, the chairman of the Presidential Office’s agrarian reform working team, said the central government could not work alone in implementing the program, urging provincial administrations to resolve agrarian disputes related to overlapping land ownership claims between locals and companies in order to expedite the land redistribution for specified citizens, such as smallholder farmers.