Experts: Job Creation Law Weakens Environmental Protection Efforts

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Pakar: UU Cipta Kerja Lemahkan Upaya Perlindungan Lingkungan Hidup
Pakar: UU Cipta Kerja Lemahkan Upaya Perlindungan Lingkungan Hidup. Foto: Shutterstock.

Jakarta (Greeners) – The Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) notes that the Omnibus Law on the Job Creation Law (UU Cipta Kerja) does not adopt the principles of sustainable environmental development. It is different from the previous law on natural resource management. ICEL concludes that the implementation of the Job Creation Law could weaken environmental protection instruments.

Instead of combining several laws, the Omnibus Law cuts through various basic environmental principles, whether in the context of environmental protection and management, forestry, plantations, spatial planning, or regional authority.

“If it is then summarized, the first thing that is most at risk of loss is reducing the principles of absolute responsibility and corporate crime. Regarding Article 88 of Law 32/2009, which in the end in the Omnibus Law has a sentence that is omitted ‘without needing to prove the element of error.’ That sentence makes the government’s decision and a lawsuit against the corporation,” says Campaign Manager for Water, Food, Essential Ecosystems, National Executive, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Wahyu Perdana, when contacted by Greeners by telephone, Wednesday (07/10/2020).

For example, Wahyu mentions the forest and land fire case. From 2015 to 2018, the government’s total winning deposit reached IDR 18 trillion. With sufficient and qualified laws, Wahyu continues, companies that pay the penalty is less than 1 percent. The Omnibus Law, he says, does not include the implementation of absolute responsibility to be fulfilled by the corporation. Instead, the Law cut corporate liabilities.

Pakar: UU Cipta Kerja Lemahkan Upaya Perlindungan Lingkungan Hidup

Wahyu Perdana assessed that the Omnibus Law does not include the implementation of absolute responsibility to be fulfilled by the corporation. Photo: Shutterstock.

Also read: Motion of No Confidence, Indonesian People’s Faction Demands DPR to Cancel the Omnibus Law

ICEL: Job Creation Law Reduces Access to Public Participation

Furthermore, ICEL issued an analysis entitled “Various Problems in the Environmental and Natural Resources Sector Job Creation Law.” ICEL’s Division Head of Environmental Management and Climate Justice of, Grita Anindarini (Aninda), says to check the validity of the Omnibus Law, which they analyze, ICEL monitored the DPR committee sessions through Parliament TV broadcasts and other Information channels.

“In this analysis, we focus on the articles of Law 32 of 2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management in the Job Creation Law. From the beginning, there were no changes in articles 38 and 39. Namely the right of public access to participation, information, and justice, which experienced a significant reduction even to the elimination,” Aninda explains.

Aninda argues, the Job Creation Law significantly reduces access to public participation. Access is restricted to people who are directly affected. According to her, if it is related to the environment, the impact will be extensive.

ICEL: Job Creation Law Makes it Difficult for the Public to Sue

The ICEL analysis also found access to information, including all environmental permit approvals, will be announced online. It is counterproductive considering that many Indonesians do not have internet access. Aninda emphasizes that access to information should be accepted and understood by the community in an easier way.

“The worst thing is that the information provided is only the final environmental approval information. Whereas in Law 32/2009, access to information is mandatory from the initial application to the final process, which must be announced. So, people have started knowing from the start if there is development or environmental problems around them,” she explains.

Aninda adds, the removal of environmental permits also had an impact on the potential for loss of public access to sue. Including the failure of the opportunity to participate in filing objections and an Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) assessment. Even more worrying, she continues, the Job Creation Law also removed the exception to the prohibition of burning for traditional farming communities. It has the potential for criminalization and shifting of the burden of responsibility.

Also read: Research: Indonesian Banks Invest in Deforestation Risk Sectors

ICEL: Sustainable Environmental Development Declined

Law no. 41 of 1999 concerning Forestry is another case, Aninda begins. The main problem with the Job Creation Law when contrasted with this law, she says, is the removal of the minimum limit of 30 percent of forest areas based on watersheds and islands. Also, there are exceptions for indigenous peoples who use forests in forest areas. The customary community who uses the forest is given a prerequisite to have done this for five consecutive years and is registered in the forest area management policy.

Aninda argues that the implementation of sustainable development principles in the Job Creation Law has seen a decline. For example, if you compare the Job Creation Law with Law no. 26 of 2007 concerning Spatial Planning. The government provides various privileges to the National Strategic Project (PSN), including to crash the national spatial planning. In comparison, the National Spatial Planning (RTRW) was prepared by taking the environment capacity into account.

ICEL: The Job Creation Law accelerates the Forest Destruction Sector Permit

ICEL analysis also compares the Job Creation Law with PP No. 24 of 2018 concerning Electronically Integrated Business Licensing Services (PP OSS), which weakens the position of Amdal from the requirements for issuing permits to fulfilling commitments that can be done after the license is issued.

Amid environmental damage in various industrial and infrastructure development projects, the Job Creation Law degrades environmental permits. The Law turns environmental permits into Environmental Agreements as a condition for business licensing. The Job Creation Law does not even require all activities to seek “permits”, depending on the risks whose prerequisites are not yet exact.

“In the end, various leniency in environmental requirements for business actors in the Job Creation Law has the potential to create negative externalities that threaten justice for future generations. Indonesia is experiencing various environmental crises,” says Aninda.

Apart from forest fires, pollution, and environmental damage due to mining continues to occur. As of February 2020, 37 people died from drowning in the former excavation of a mine hole in the East Kalimantan Province. UU no. 3/2020 concerning Mineral and Coal Mining provides a “red carpet” for mining business actors. Meanwhile, the Job Creation Law delivers a 0 percent royalty stimulus for coal entrepreneurs to increase added value.

Reporter: Dewi Purningsih

Editor: Ixora Devi