Jakarta. The government has ordered Indonesia's second-largest timber producer to come up with a revised work plan that complies with peatland protection regulations after rejecting the company's existing plan for ground operations in its concession areas in Riau province.
Top executives at Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) – a unit of global pulp- and paper-industry leader Asia Pacific Resources International (April) – warned last week that a Rp 100 trillion ($7.4 billion) investment and tens of thousands of jobs could be at stake after the Ministry of Environment and Forestry invalidated its original work plan.
"They are not interested in revising their work plan to comply with the government regulation on peatland protection," Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya told reporters in Jakarta on Monday (23/10).
Siti signed a letter on Oct. 16, rejecting RAPP's 10-year and 2017 work plans to force the company's hand to comply with the government's new peatland protection framework, as detailed in Ministerial Decree No. 17 of 2017, which provides technical detail related to the implementation of Government Regulation No. 57 of 2016.
This move effectively voided RAPP's 2010-2019 business plan, which was approved by the previous administration.
The ministry sent RAPP two letters of reprimand – a copy of which is in the Jakarta Globe's possession – which state that the timber producer must submit a revised work plan that complies with the peatland protection regulation by Thursday this week, 10 days after the second reprimand letter was issued.
The government also suspended RAPP's forestry operations with the second reprimand letter. However, a point in the letter states corrections can be made later if errors are found.
Minister Siti said she would meet with RAPP representatives on Tuesday to remind them that the firm must comply with the government regulation.
"How can they sustain the argument that they are a great environmentally friendly international firm when their work plan does not comply with the government regulation?" the minister said.
Siti said she would also warn RAPP not to mislead the public by pretending to have no idea about the issue the company is facing, or to pressure the government by making it look as if it will have to lay off thousands of employees because its 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 the Indonesian government issued RAPP with a license to use state land. They must know their place," Siti said.
Government Regulation No. 57 of 2016, signed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in December last year, is an amendment of Government Regulation No. 71 of 2014 on the protection and management of peatland ecosystems.
The government has started to place greater emphasis on the protection and management of peatlands after Indonesia was condemned by the international community for forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan and the resulting haze that choked several Southeast Asian countries in 2015.