Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Indonesia Losing US$16 bln Per Year By Natural Resources Theft

Indonesia Losing US$16 bln Per Year By Natural Resources Theft

Source: Antara News - May 9, 2008 Magelang, Central Java

Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono said Indonesia`s natural resources whichwere stolen each year reached a total value of US$16 billion."We have been losing 16 billion dollars every year since 2004," the minister said after planting a `sawo` tree within the Military Academy complex here on Thursday.

He said based on a report he had received from the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries, the theft included illegal logging, fish poaching, drug and human trafficking. Juwono said the defense ministry was cooperating with other agencies such as the customs and excise office to build a joint weaponry strength for joint patrols to fight natural resource theft.

He said the natural resource thieves had strong capital and ships and were well-organized to operate illegally in Indonesia`s waters. "They are well-organized in carrying out illegal logging, fish poaching andsmuggling (particularly fuel oils)," he said. He said due to financial constraints, the only thing that could be done at present was cooperationamong the government agencies to face natural resource theft.

Speaking before the Military Academy`s cadets, Juwono said that the minimum budget the defense ministry needed in 2008 was about 100 trillion rupiah.The amount was needed to build a relatively strong defense system, he said. He said the country`s state budget was about Rp782 trillion, of which some 80 percent was for development of the economic sector and people`s welfare and 20 percent for political, legal and human rights sectors.

The defense sector got Rp32 trillion for the development of strength in the Army, Navy and Air Force, he added."The Ministry of Defense has to be accurate in calculating its spending so that the state can be defended. We know that our budget is insufficient and we have to give in because the economic sector and people`s prosperity are more important. We are aware that the state is giving priority to thepoor," he said.