The Indonesian government has ordered the country’s second-largest timber firm Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, or RAPP, to produce a revised work plan that complies with peat protection regulation, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said on Monday (23/10).
Top executives at RAPP — a unit of global pulp and paper industry leader Asia Pacific Resources International, better known as April — told reporters last week that an investment of about a Rp 100 trillion ($7.4 billion) could be under threat with tens of thousands of jobs in jeopardy after the ministry rejected a key work plan for ground operations in the company’s concession areas.
“They are not interested in revising their work plan to comply with the government regulation on peat protection,” Siti told reporters in Jakarta.
The ministry, in a letter Siti signed on Oct. 16, rejected RAPP’s 10-year and 2017 work plans to force the company’s hands to comply with the government’s new peatland protection framework, as detailed in the ministerial decree No. 17/2017, which provides technical details related to the implementation of Government Regulation No. 57/2016.
This move effectively voided RAPP’s 2010-2019 business plan that was approved by the previous administration.
The ministry sent RAPP two reprimand letters — a copy of which has been acquired by the Jakarta Globe — which state that the timber firm must submit a revised work plan complying with the peat protection regulation to the government by Thursday this week, 10 days after the second reprimand letter was issued.
The government also suspended RAPP’s forestry-related operations with the second reprimand letter. However, a point in the letter states corrections can be made later if blunders are found.Minister Siti said she will meet RAPP representatives on Tuesday to remind them that the firm simply must comply to the government’s peat protection regulation.
“How can they sustain the argument that they are a great environmentally-friendly international firm, when their work plan does not comply with government regulation?” the minister said.
Siti said she will also warn RAPP not to try to mislead the public by pretending they have no idea about the issue they are facing, or to put pressure on the government by making it look as if they have to sack many of their employees because their work plan was not approved.
“They’re still operating. They are still exporting timber… this is so unfair. They are being unfair to the government and to the public. They should not do this. Do not forget that RAPP was afforded a license to use state land by the Indonesian government. They must know their place,” Siti said.
The Government Regulation No. 57/2016, which was signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in December last year, is an amendment to Government Regulation No. 71/2014 on the protection and management of peatland ecosystems.
The government has put a bigger attention to protection and management of peatlands after Indonesia was condemned by the international community for forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, and haze that choked several Southeast Asian countries in 2015.