MIFEE and other top-down developments in Papua will continue under Jokowi administration.

Indonesian media have recently been widely reporting the head of Indonesia’s Investment Coodinating Board, Franky Sibarani, who stated his commitment to support stalled investment projects in Papua. He referred to a number of unspecified projects in the plantation, cement, fisheries and petrochemical sectors, including the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate, the agribusiness megaproject planned for the far south of West Papua. One of the articles, from Metro TV News, is translated below.

The language and philosophy Franky Sibarani uses is distinctly reminiscent of Indonesia’s controversial MP3EI development plan (Masterplan for the Expansion and Acceleration of Indonesian Economic Development), which was adopted in 2011 by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration. The MP3EI widely criticised for prioritising investment projects over the needs of communities in the places those projects will take place. In keeping with the spirit of MP3EI, Franky Sibarani uses the term debottlenecking to refer to the need to overcome barriers to investment – one of the examples he gives is that companies are unable to access indigenous customary land.

What Franky doesn’t mention is that if MIFEE and other development projects have not been proceeding as bureaucrats in Jakarta planned, it is to a large degree down to the opposition of local indigenous communities, who were never consulted when plans were drawn up to use the land they legally and constitutionally own, and who have consistently been treated as little more than an irritating obstacle to industrial development. The high failure rate of top-down development projects in Papua should give ample proof that treating indigenous people as a bottleneck is not a strategy that benefits anyone, even the investors.

Will Jokowi continue the MP3EI vision?

As the Indonesian government does not speak with one unified voice, we should ask whether the BKPM is a lone government body supporting a continuation of the MP3EI logic of favouring investors over the people, or is this attitude representative of the rest of the new Jokowi administration? After all, many volunteers which supported Jokowi’s election campaign were from social movements campaigning against MP3EI, whereas the main architect of MP3EI, Hatta Rajasa, had been his rival Prabowo’s running mate.

Back in September 2014, Kompas newspaper reported that Jokowi said when asked if he would continue the MP3EI “Our orientation is clearly different. We are focussing on agriculture, food sovereignty and infrastructure. Those are our priorities”. In late October Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sofyan Djalil was reported to have said that he would review the MP3EI, but that solid programmes would be followed up: “If there are good programs that are not optimally run yet, we will strive to optimize them”. In December CNN reported that the name MP3EI was likely to be dropped, but the spirit of the program would continue: “If development is positive, we will continue with it. Even though the word MP3EI might not come up so often, that’s for political reasons. But the enthusiasm for development remains the same”, said Luky Eko Wuryanto, a deputy in the Economic Coordination Ministry.

Indonesia’s Medium Term Development Plan lays out government strategy in all areas from 2015-2019. The three-volume document does not mention MP3EI by name. Unlike the MP3EI, which focussed only on top-down development, there are policies in there that could be described as pro-people. However, many of the big destructive development projects are all in there too.

rpjmn_papuaIn Papua, most of the controversial developments are included – starting with MIFEE. This megaproject, criticised by many including social movements across Papua and the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, figures in the plan, and there is no indication that it will be reformed to address the problems which have arisen – there will even be new legislation to establish Merauke as a Special Economic Zone.

Another special economic zone is to be created in Arar, the new port being built just outside Sorong. Bintuni is designated as an industrial zone, and the petrochemical and fertilizer industries are mentioned as a key focus. Oil palm development is also to be supported in many parts of Papua, and ranch-style cattle farms are on the cards in the Bomberay area of Fakfak Regency, Kebar in Manokwari Regency and Salawati in Sorong Regency. Two potentially disastrous big hydroelectric projects are also mentioned, on the Mamberamo and Urumuka Rivers.

If the indigenous people of Papua continue to be treated as an inconvenient obstacle to progress, it is all-but-inevitable that most of these projects will end up in chaos and continue to fuel the many diverse conflicts that continue to beset the land of Papua.

(the medium term development plan can be downloaded at http://musrenbangnas.bappenas.go.id/ )

BKPM Boosts Investment Realization in Papua

Metrotvnews, Jakarta Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) will put a special emphasis on pushing for the actualisation of investment projects in Papua. This is a result of the low levels of investment project realisation in Papua between 2010-2013.

“Aside from the BKPM’s main work laid our by the President, it will also take the initiative to push for an increase in investment in Papua in particular. We have already made an inventory of investment projects in Papua, and we have quite a lot of data, but we are more concerned about nine of the companies we are facilitating which are currently blocked, representing a value of 13.87 trillion Rupiah in the plantation, fisheries, cement, petrochemical and industrial sectors”, said the head of the BKPM, Franky Sibarani, in his Jakarta office on Friday 30/01/2015.

Franky explained that the obstacles the companies were facing were quite diverse, such as a cement company which had actually already built a factory, but couldn’t operate because of internal conflicts between the indigenous groups who are the customary landowners over the sale of the land.

There are also six maritime companies of which some are being held up by the Maritime and Fisheries’ ministry’s policy over a moratorium on permits for boats. Then there are several investing companies who are frustrated with what is happening with the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE), who feel there has been no facilitation in over two years to resolve issues on the ground caused by a change in orientation from the government.

Despite all this, Franky said that he had been in communication with the investor companies and would continue to support them to ensure their investments went ahead.

“We are prioritising coordination with the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), and are currently in a consolidation phase to look at debottlenecking, other potential investors and also old programmes such as MIFEE which, although they no longer have a legal framework, we still want to support the realisation of investments. Our target is to finish this consolidation during the first half of this year and once that’s done we should have a clearer picture”, Franky said.

The main reason for BKPM to coordinate with Bappenas is so that any efforts or plans which have already been made will be in line with the investors’ own plans.

Franky explained, that he could confirm his help and support for businessmen that had recently not been receiving the support they might have expected for their plans. “As long as they are serious, we will support them to be able to realise their investment plans”, he added.

One of the main factors which investors complain about is the how the government appears to abstrain from providing infrastructure which would support investment in Papua. There are also problems of land availability which is still proving to be an obstacle as the status of the land is still customary land.

Source: http://ekonomi.metrotvnews.com/read/2015/01/30/352023/bkpm-genjot-realisasi-investasi-di-papua

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