Monday, 19 April 2010

Rogue Mining, Energy Sector Practices Blasted

Another wake up call for the dozey EC and the UK government. Or, is it all too much on an inconvenient truth?

April 18, 2010
Nurfika Osman The Jakarta Globe

Rogue Mining, Energy Sector Practices Blasted

The government must take stringent measures to root out corruption and rogue governance in the lucrative mining and energy sectors, which are stunting the country’s development, activists say.

“The government actually plays a role in fostering illegal mining in the country, especially in Kalimantan, by issuing permits to companies that don’t meet environmental requirements,” said Maryati Abdullah, a researcher for the nongovernmental organization Pattiro, which focuses on transparency and development.

“The government is allowing these companies, including the major ones, to mine just about anywhere as long as it gets its take from them.”

The Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force is in South Kali¬mantan to probe allegations of conspiracy in mining and energy projects. Task force secretary Denny Indrayana said on Saturday that the team was focusing on violations in the tax and excise, mining and energy, forestry, banking and finance, and agrarian and fisheries sectors.

“As long as we still have rogue governance, it’ll be difficult for the country to progress,” he said.

“What we need to do is what President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono prescribed: clean it out.”

On Friday, Yudhoyono ordered the task force to investigate why courts consistently handed down light sentences to illegal loggers.

At a news conference later in the day, Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring said that of the 92 cases of alleged illegal logging tried recently, 49 had ended in acquittals, 24 in jail sentences of less than a year and 19 in sentences of between one and two years.

Maryati said a lack of coordination between local administrations and the central government had made it easier for rogue governance to flourish in the mining and forestry sectors.

“This lack of coordination has resulted in illegal mining practices continuing, and it sometimes seems we’re selling off our country bit by bit, because many of the companies operating in this field are multinationals,” she said.

Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Febri Diansyah said the war against the judicial mafia should be waged institutionally.

“We can’t eradicate it case by case,” he said.

“Now is the right time to clean out whole institutions such as the National Police, the tax office, the Attorney General’s Office and district attorney’s offices through reform.

“This can be done through new regulations, the promotion or rotation of officials, the monitoring of individual officials’ wealth and punishing those proven guilty,” Febri said.

“We’re in a ‘mafia emergency.’ The country’s laws are toothless, and the institutions in question are tainted. This makes everything worse, because it also impacts on our ability to uphold human rights as well as to improve our citizens’ quality of living.

“We should throw out the presumption of innocence for state officials who have amassed great wealth, to force them to prove they did not acquire it illegally,” he said.

Additional reporting by Antara