The Palm Scribe

Sawit Watch: Omnibus Law Complicates Efforts to Improve Palm Oil Management

The passing of the draft Omnibus Law into law by a plenary of the People’s Representative Council on October 5, 2020 will only complicate the urgent and much-needed process to improve the management of the country’s oil palm plantation sector, Sawit Watch said.

“Talking about the palm oil industry, we all agreed that there is a need for an improvement in the management of its plantations. The passage of the Omnibus Law will only make improving palm oil management more difficult,” Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch, said in a press statement obtained by The Palm Scribe Wednesday (7/10.)

Fatinaware said that even though the results were still far from satisfactory, the government had already come out with a number of policies to improve the management of oil palm plantation, including the settlement of palm oil plantations in forest areas.

The government, she said had issued a moratorium on new palm oil concessions and to raise the productivity of people’s palm oil plantations that was hoped to be the first step putting order into this industry.  The government has also come out with government regulation number 60 of 2012, government regulation number 104 of 2015 and Presidential Regulation number 88 of 2017 to back up the settlement of oil palm plantations in forest areas as mandated by the moratorium.

But Fatinaware also said that so far there were not yet any cases of oil palm plantations in forest areas that had been settled, even though the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said there were 3.4 million hectares of oil palm plantations in forest areas.

She also stressed that if studied further, forestry data, especially related to the spatial data on forest areas remained not yet transparent and the public had difficulties accessing them.

“Suddenly this Omnibus Law broke through the ongoing process and offered a settlement model that “reeks” of write offs. The style of settlement of this Omnibus Law dampens the potentials for settlement, permits would be ignored, there would be no transparency and that at the end the public would be put at a disadvantage while only a few groups would benefit, and suspicions of corruption appear set to be ignored,” Fatinaware said.

She underlined that the passage of the Omnibus Law took place amid widespread objection from various sides who deemed that the law did not side with the people and only had the interest of investment in mind.

“As to whether this has any correlation with the political year of 2024, only time would be able to answer,” she said.

The Omnibus law has also been strongly rejected by a number of labor organizations which all said for the sake of more investment, the law did not side with labor and only favored entrepreneurs.

A number of environmental and labor activists have already said that they were preparing to challenge the Omnibus Law in court.

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