Thursday, 4 February 2010

Forestry Ministry Graft Behind Rapid Deforestation


This is the very same Ministry which the EC and British DFID/IIED give its taxpayers money to…………….despite knowing full well they are only fuelling corruption.

To think the idiotic DFID and its Minister Douglas Alexander have just promised another £50,000,000 to Indonesia.

This is a disgrace and scandal which hopefully one day the relevant people will be held legally accountable for.

Other countries like the USA, Australia, Norway etc all throw their citizens money at Indonesia with nothing to show for it. So. Where does this money go?


February 03, 2010

Nivell Rayda The Jakarta Globe

Corruption was the root cause of the country’s rapid pace of deforestation, threatening to hamper the government’s effort to cut at least 26 percent of Indonesia’s carbon emissions by 2020, environment groups said at a meeting on Wednesday.

Susanto Kurniawan, the coordinator of Forest Rescue Network Riau (Jikalahari), said that there were a multitude of brokers inside the central and local forestry offices that supplied the necessary land-use permits in exchange for bribes.

“Nearly all permits issued by the Ministry of Forestry have indications of corruption. The number varies from one place to another and depends on circumstances,” Susanto told the Jakarta Globe. “Corruption occurs at almost every level, including securing permits, obtaining concessions and overlooking irregularities.”

Susanto pointed out that during the regional elections, the number of permits issued increased substantially. “The major logging companies pocketed politicians and incumbent governors or district heads by financing their campaigns. We can say that it is a form of state capture,” he said.

A study released in 2009 by New York based Human Rights Watch showed that the Indonesian government loses about $2 billion annually in unpaid taxes due to illegal logging and forest mismanagement. The group also found that about half of the country’s timber was logged illegally.

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said the Forestry Ministry protects the major players in illegal logging. “We found there were at least 90 cases last year where the ministry failed to sanction major companies for operating in protected forests or other restricted areas,” Walhi researcher Teguh Surya said.

“Instead of sanctioning them the ministry gave them logging permits. This would not have occurred if the ministry was serious in fighting corruption and eradicating illegal logging.”

In 2007, the Riau Police charged 200 people from 14 major logging and paper companies with illegal logging but none of the cases made it to court.

“Arrests are only for show, [to make it seem] they have done something to combat illegal logging. The seized wood is auctioned back to the major companies, often at a third of the normal price,” Susanto said. “So major players benefit from crackdowns, while the law only punishes small companies and individuals.”

But loggers are not the only party responsible for the rampant graft. Environmental group Sawit Watch said the palm oil industry was also to blame.

“The forest to plantation conversion rate reaches 400,000 hectares per year. Most of the companies have not secured a forest conversion permit, but were given a license to operate on a lend-lease basis by the local authorities,” Sawit Watch director Abet Nego told the Globe.

“On paper the areas are still considered forests, but in reality they are palm oil plantations.”

The meeting also highlighted the lack of transparency and accountability as one of the factors contributing to the problem.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has so far declared six members of the last House forestry commission as corruption suspects. The lawmakers were suspected of receiving bribe money in exchange for their backing in the conversion of protected forests in South Sumatra and the Riau Islands. Three have already been found guilty by the Anti-Corruption Court.