Social forestry program goals not achievable, say NGOs
Two civil society groups, the Indonesia Budget Center (IBC) and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), have expressed doubts on whether President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration can accomplish its 12.7-million-hectare (ha) target for its social forestry program.
The social forestry program is part of the country’s 2014 to 2019 medium-term development plan.
Jokowi plans to hand over 12.7 million ha to local residents over the five-year period. The program is expected to protect the locals’ livelihood in the forest.
A recent IBC research showed that, between 2015 and June this year, the Environment and Forestry Ministry had only issued permits for 510,200 ha of social forestry land. The figure is only 4 percent of the 12.7 million ha target.
“It’s impossible for Jokowi to reach the target in 2019,” IBC researcher Maryono said on Wednesday.
Maryono added that the allocation of the budget had an impact on the realization of social forestry program, saying that between 2015 and last year, the disbursement of funds for the program was unstable.
Last year, the allocated budget was Rp 32.56 billion (US$ 2,43 million), which was 22 percent lower than the 2015 budget of Rp 41.49 billion, while this year, the figure increased by 30 percent to Rp 42.24 billion.
“This caused an imbalance between the allocated budget and the target to issue permits,” Maryono said, adding that the government had not set the standard budget for a permit issuance of each ha of the social forestry program.
Maryono said that if the budget in 2015 became the baseline, the government should allocate Rp 217,000 per ha. Therefore, it should allocate Rp 4.15 trillion in five years or Rp 830.58 billion per year for the 12.7 million ha of social forestry program. The budget’s average per year during the last three years was only Rp 31.8 billion.
Walhi’s Boy J. Even Sembiring saidthe government should also improve the regulation to reach its target.
“We doubt that Jokowi could reach the target by the end of 2019 if he fails to create new optimism by making a new breakthrough in regulations,” he added.
On Friday, the IBC and Walhi had a meeting with the Finance Ministry’s directorate general of budgeting to discuss their recommendations that call for increasing the budget to speed up the social forestry program.
Wawan Sunarjo, an official at the Finance Ministry who met the groups, said that any budget adjustment could weigh down the government’s financial capability, adding that the forestry program in fact was not part of Jokowi’s 10 prioritized development programs.
“We depend on the budget proposal presented by the Environment and Forestry Ministry,” Wawan said, adding that the IBC and Walhi should not only focus on the budget standard, but should also communicate with the environment ministry.
Environment and Forestry Ministry director general for social forestry Hadi Daryanto could not be reached for comment.