Indonesia: National antigraft agency involvement helps to improve forest governance: UNDP

Edo Karensa Jakarta Globe 26 Apr 16;

Jakarta. The involvement of the national antigraft agency in monitoring forest practices in Indonesia has helped to improve governance in the industry, the United Nations Development Program said.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) started its involvement in forest industry monitoring in 2015 under the auspices of the National Movement for Saving Natural Resources, after signing a memorandum of understanding with 12 ministries and government institutions.

UNDP Indonesia technical adviser Abdul Wahib Situmorang said the KPK had introduced a holistic approach to improve the forest governance in 13 provinces, especially around the issues of irregular permits and taxation.

Abdul said that during 2015, the antigraft agency monitored the practices of forest business permit reviews and tax collection from corporations and noted that it was also important to dig deeper into cases of corruption in the forestry industry.

"When there is an indication of suspicious forest business permits, corruption or tax manipulation, the findings should be handed over to law-enforcement institutions," he said in Jakarta on Tuesday (26/04).

UNDP forestry expert Hariadi Kartodihardjo said the KPK's presence has pushed regional governments to re-collect the data of forestry corporations in each region and map the tax revenue potentials.

The KPK predicted that the state loses out on around $1.2 billion in tax revenue annually from forestry and mining activities across the country. Another $2.6 billion is believed to be lost due to illegal logging each year.

"My findings show that many regional government agencies are uncertain of their tax-revenue targets from the forest industry. They don't even know how corporations are operating in their area and their data are mostly incomplete," Hariadi told reporters.

The UNDP's 2015 Forest Governance Index showed that 48 percent of respondents saw improvements in law-enforcement measures in the forest industry compared to last year.

Yet, 32 percent said the laws are still stagnant, while another 20 percent believed there were setbacks.

The survey also showed that 82 percent of respondents believe authorities managed and responded positively to their complaints related to forestry issues, while 9 percent stated that the situation was still stagnant. Another 9 percent believed the situation was getting worse.

The Forest Governance Index surveyed local residents, businessmen, civil society, academics and government representatives.

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