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Gapki supports the government’s improvement of palm oil industry governance, including the bleaching of 3.3 million hectares of oil palm land in forest areas. Improvement of governance is important to increase competitiveness.
BANDUNG, KOMPAS – The Indonesian Palm Oil Entrepreneurs Association supports the government’s efforts to improve the governance of the palm oil industry, including the legalization process of 3.3 million hectares of palm oil plantation in forest areas. Governance improvement is crucial amidst declining production and slow rejuvenation of smallholder palm oil farmers.
“The Indonesian Palm Oil Entrepreneurs Association (Gapki) has no concerns regarding the governance of the palm oil industry, including the arrangement of Plantation Use Permit (HGU) within forest areas. This issue should be resolved by the palm oil governance task force,” said the Chairman of Gapki, Eddy Martono, in a discussion titled “HGU for Palm Plantation and Forest Areas,” held in West Bandung Regency, West Java, on Wednesday (August 23, 2023).”
However, Eddy emphasized that the bleaching of HGU in forest areas does not mean that the company is forgiven by the government. Oil palm companies legally obtain HGU certificates from the government after the status of the land is clean and clear (clear and clean). The granting of HGU plantations was also preceded by the formation of a team consisting of all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) and the local government.
At the end of June, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said an audit of the palm oil industry governance task force found 3.3 million hectares of oil palm cover in forest areas. Oil palm land is part of 16.8 million hectares of oil palm in Indonesia. As many as 10.4 million hectares of which are used by companies and 6.4 million hectares are smallholder plantations (Kompas.id 24/4/2023).
“The palm oil plantations in the area will be whitened. What can be done? It is impossible to uproot them, so they have to be whitened,” said Luhut in a press conference at his office in Jakarta, on Friday (June 23, 2023).”
Of the 3.3 million hectares of HGU in forest areas, according to data from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (Kompas.id 17/7/2023), only 237,000 hectares have release letters (SK) to convert forest areas into oil palm plantations, and 913,000 hectares are still in the process of determining SK. However, 2.2 million hectares do not have SK and have not been processed.
Eddy stated that palm oil companies have followed up on the government’s governance improvement measures. Out of the 3.3 million hectares of Right to Cultivate (HGU) in forest areas, 1.8 million hectares are owned by companies as palm plantations, while 1.5 million hectares belong to small-scale farmers.
The government has taken further steps to improve this governance by requesting companies to independently report company data including general information, legality and legal products, and company licensing. Reporting is done through the official website of the Plantation Licensing Information System (Siperibun) from July 3 to August 2, 2023 which is then extended again from August 23 to September 8.
A total of 1,870 companies out of more than 2,000 plantation companies have reported their company data to Siperibun. As a form of support from Gapki, Edy said that all Gapki member companies have reported their company data to Siperibun.
Eddy stated that the resolution of the overlapping HGU with the forest area will be resolved through two schemes, namely Article 110A and 110B of the Job Creation Law Number 6 of 2023. Under the Article 110A scheme, companies that have business permits in plantation areas are required to fulfill the requirements by no later than November 2, 2023. Companies will only be subject to administrative fines and/or revocation of business permits if they exceed the deadline.
The second settlement scheme is Article 110B, which applies to companies that do not have plantation business permits in forest areas. These companies will be subject to temporary cessation of business activities, payment of administrative fines, and/or government enforcement. This scheme will also only allow maximum plantation operations for one cycle since the planting of palm oil or inability to rejuvenate.
Executive Director of Gapki, Mukti Sardjono, explained that the clearing of HGU in forest areas has two sides. This clearing also creates an image that national palm oil companies have been engaging in deforestation. However, the HGU is an official certificate issued by the government through the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning / National Land Agency.
“When there is a palm oil plantation in the forest area, the company will lose the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certificate. However, the company has an official HGU as one of the requirements to obtain the ISPO certificate, which is also quite difficult and time-consuming, sometimes taking 5 to 10 years,” said Mukti.
Professor at the Faculty of Law, Universitas Padjadjaran I Gde Pantja Astawa, stated that spatial planning policies in Indonesia often change frequently and do not solve problems. “The changes in spatial planning policies actually add to the problems, especially in the palm oil industry,” said I Gde.
The lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Al-Azhar University Indonesia, Sadino, stated that the status of a company’s land, which has a land-use permit, should already be clean and clear, with no more overlapping with forest areas.
“My language is that the forest area is included in the HGU, not the HGU that is included in the forest area,” said Sadino.
This is because the granting of HGU to companies goes through a lengthy process and involves all stakeholders from the government, according to Sadino. This problem also arises because some forest areas are still in the process of designation and have not yet reached the stage of forest area determination.
Source : Kompas.id