April Group has entered exclusive talks to acquire Brazilian pulp maker Lwarcel Celulose. (Photo courtesy of RAPP)

Indonesian Gov't Confident of Winning Against RAPP's Legal Action

BY :DAMES ALEXANDER SINAGA

DECEMBER 12, 2017

Jakarta. The Indonesian government is quietly confident it will win a lawsuit against Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, or RAPP, currently on trial at the Jakarta State Administrative Court, or PTUN, a senior official at the Environment and Forestry Ministry said on Monday (11/12).

RAPP, the operational unit of Asia Pacific Resources International, lodged a suit at PTUN on Nov. 16 against a reprimand letter issued by the ministry which voided the company’s current 10-year business plan.

The pulp and paper company said it had sent a letter of objection to the ministry over the reprimand and claimed the ministry had failed to respond within 10 days as required by the country's Good Governance Law.

This prompted the company to accuse the ministry of not obeying the law.

Bambang Hendroyono, the ministry’s secretary general, claimed it has already responded to RAPP’s objection letter by organizing five meetings with the company’s representatives since the ministry received the letter.

Bambang said RAPP has also been actively engaged in consultations with the ministry, although the company still has not revised its work plans to comply with the government's new peatland protection framework — detailed in Ministerial Decree No. 17 of 2017 which spells out technical details to implement Government Regulation No. 57 of 2016.

"These responses are proof that we've communicated [with RAPP]. That's proof of good governance," Bambang said after another session of the trial on Monday.

Bambang said RAPP's letter of objection is meaningless because the company had sent it at the same time as it was telling the ministry it will revise its work plans.

"They took a legal action when there was ongoing communication between us. That's not right," Bambang said.

RAPP now argues that one of the articles in Government Regulation No. 57 of 2016 states that business permits issued before the regulation became effective will remain valid until the company's license expires, which means RAPP's business plan should still be valid until 2019.

"The ministry should respect the [2016] regulation. We will revise the plan in the next two years – the government should not repeal it halfway," Hamdan Zoelva, RAPP's legal representative and a former Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice, said on Thursday last week.

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