In Brief... DTE 52 - February 2002

Down to Earth No 52, February 2002


West Papua will not receive Freeport's corporate tax

Last minute changes in the Special Autonomy Law have denied West Papua a share of Freeport's corporate taxes - the largest chunk of annual payments - according to The Far Eastern Economic Review. The Review says that BP will end up pumping more money into West Papua's coffers than Freeport, which has been paying Jakarta an average of $180 million a year in taxes and royalties. Under special autonomy eighty percent of the royalties (only $30 million) goes to the Papuan provincial administration. As compensation, Papua will get an additional 2% of the total grant the central government hands out to the provinces each year. (FEER 20/Dec/01)
For more on special autonomy see DTE 51


Transmigration policy review

Indonesia's minister of manpower and transmigration, Jacob Nuwa Wea, has announced that the government's transmigration programme will be reformed, to prevent it from becoming a source of conflict between local people and settlers. Under the revised programme, the legal status of land will be checked before being given to transmigrants. The minister admitted that the existing policy failed to assess the social, cultural and environmental background of the target regions and people living there. "The current policy has sparked protests from locals, who have demanded the return of their land…the policy has ignored the locals' interests. It's not fair," he said. The programme will now focus on job creation, not just the mass movement of people. There will be a 50:50 ratio between local people and transmigrants. (Jakarta Post 13/Dec/01)

The announcement indicates that, as far as the government is concerned, transmigration is still alive and well, despite a collapse in transmigrant placements due to the economic crisis. The emphasis on legal status of land will not improve matters for indigenous communities affected by transmigration unless legal status is expanded to include adat (customary) land held by indigenous communities. Their rights have been systematically violated by transmigration until now. (For details of recent developments in transmigration see DTE's July 2001 report: Indonesia's transmigration programme: an update)


EU rejects Indonesian shrimp imports

The European Union has officially banned imports of cultivated shrimp from Indonesia from the beginning of this year because they were found to contain the antibiotic Chloramphenicol. The EU had previously warned Indonesia that it should comply with EU directive (No. CD 2001/705/EC) prohibiting the use of this antibiotic. Indonesia itself had issued a ban on the distribution of Chloramphenicol as early as 1982. (SKEPHI press release 29/Jan/02)


Five large dams for Bengkulu

The local government in South Bengkulu district, Sumatra, plans to build five large dams to irrigate 18,700 hectares of farmland at a total cost of Rp 1.2 trillion (US$ 120 million). The administration expects to get funding from foreign assistance or through a "special" budget allocation. (Jakarta Post15/Dec/01)


Bapedal merger protests

President Megawati issued two decrees in January to provide for the merger of Indonesia's environmental protection agency, Bapedal, with the state ministry for the environment. Ministers are no longer allowed to head both departments and autonomous agencies. The aim, according to environment minister Nabiel Makarim, is to strengthen the state ministry's hand by enabling it to enforce environmental compliance as well as formulate policies and guidelines.

However, environmental NGOs including ICEL, WALHI, HuMa and WWF are fiercely opposing the merger because they fear it will mean less, not more protection of the environment. According to ICEL's Mas Achmad Santosa, the merger will not empower the environment minister but weaken his position. WALHI's Emmy Hafild said that Bapedal's power to make legally binding regulations and to carry out investigations will disappear. The NGOs acknowledge that Bapedal was not perfect, but say it made significant contributions to the enforcement of environmental laws in the regions, especially in dealing with forest fires and pollution.

The NGOs say they intend to challenge the decrees by seeking a judicial review by the Supreme Court because the decrees violate higher-level regulations on the environment. (Jakarta Post 4,10&28/Jan/02)