Activists say agrarian reform going nowhere, special ad hoc body needed

CNN Indonesia – March 5, 2019
KPA protest on National Farmers Day (CNN)
KPA protest on National Farmers Day (CNN)

Jakarta – The Agrarian Reform Consortium (KAP) is asking the government to establish a special body to implement the agrarian reform program. KPA Secretary General Dewi Kartika says that the body should be temporary (ad hoc) and must be personally headed up by the president.

“The body must be ad hoc, meaning its temporary, not a permanent body”, said Kartika at the Indonesian Ombudsman office in Jakarta on Monday March 4.

Kartika said that the body must have the full authority to conduct land registrations, reviews and to annul land permits so it can implement agrarian reform more effectively and on target.

“This body must be credible, the body must also be led by the president with his authority, so decisions can be made on cross sectoral problems”, she said.

The KPA representatives went to the Ombudsman’s office to report a review and evaluation on four years of agrarian reform under the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

The KPA has put together a report on developments in the implementation of agrarian reform, including problems associated with large land concessions which have yet to be addressed.

Kartika believes that over the last four years of the Widodo administration the implementation of the agrarian reform program has gone nowhere.

The government has set an agrarian reform target of 9 million hectares through various methods. First, the redistribution of 400,000 hectares of land where the land use rights (HGU) have expired or land has been abandoned by companies, along with the redistribution of 4.1 million hectares of land from the release of land claims on forest areas.

The government has also targeted the asset legalisation of 3.9 million hectares and the legalisation of 600,000 hectares of transmigration land which has not yet been certified for the agrarian reform program.

Based on data from the Agrarian Affairs Ministry (ATR) and the National Land Agency (BPN), out of the targeted 400,000 hectares of land touted by the government for redistribution, only 270,237 hectares has been realised.

Meanwhile based on the KPA’s records, only 785 hectares of land has been redistributed in accordance with the goals and principles of agrarian reform, namely the Mangkit Village in North Sulawesi Utara, the Pamegatan Pasawahan villages in West Java and the Tumbrek Village in Central Java.

Furthermore, none of the promised agrarian reform of 4.1 million hectares of released forest land has been realised, zero hectares. “Based on the achievements reported so far, we believe that the implementation of agrarian reform is still preoccupied with the distribution of land certificates”, said Kartika.

According to Kartika, the slow realisation of agrarian reform is because there is no special body to deal with the issue.

Currently, said Kartika, the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy as the head of the Agrarian Reform Team has yet to “step on the gas” in pursuing the program.

Likewise with the Agrarian Form Task Force (GTRA) at the national level which is headed up by ministers from the ATR and BPN. The KPA believes that agrarian reform cannot only be discussed by one sector, but must be cross sectoral. “This requires cooperation between all parties”, she said.

Ombudsman Commissioner Alamyasah Saragih is of the same view and believes that the government must immediately build a national consensus on agrarian reform.

“An initiative by the president is needed to build a national consensus which involves the legislature, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) and the Financial Service Authority (OJK)”, he said.

According to Saragih agrarian reform should not just involve the executive but also legislative and judicial institutions, as well as private companies which own huge land concessions.

“If this is not done, the process will not be business friendly. Aside from the OKJ and BI [Bank Indonesia], actors in related sectors also need to form a national consensus”, he said. (sah/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “KPA Desak Pemerintah Bentuk Lembaga Ad Hoc Reforma Agraria”.]