The Jakarta Post
A member of the House of Representatives' (DPR) Budgetary Committee has said that the government's agency responsible for managing foreign aid to protect the forests must be held accountable by the public.
Satya Yudha, a lawmaker from the Golkar Party, said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's REDD+ task force had never published an accountability report until it was disbanded in June and replaced by the new REDD+ agency.
'The REDD+ agency is an agency that we have longed for. However, it has to be transparent. They have to report their budget to the House. This agency's budget should be included within the state budget, even though it receives its funds from Norway,' Satya said recently.
The Norwegian government has agreed to provide US$1 billion aid package, in gradual installments, to reduce emissions from deforestation of forests and peatlands.
One of the agency's tasks is to monitor the REDD+ agreement between the Indonesian government and the Norwegian government, as the latter has agreed to disburse $1 billion worth of aid in increments to reduce emissions from the destruction of forests and peatlands.
Satya said the House remained clueless on the amount of funds the task force had received from Norway, also when and where it allocated those funds.
The new REDD+ agency, which was set up in September, will be operating under the auspices of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Ministry.
The policy has drawn criticism from the Environment Ministry, which wanted the agency to be under its command.
'The REDD+ agency was established solely to manage international grant for conservation, when in fact we already have the DNPI (the National Council on Climate Change). Why the agency does not work under the DNPI is questionable,' Imam Hendargo, deputy minister for environmental governance at the ministry, said.
Meanwhile, Mas Achmad Santosa, legal adviser to presidential working group tasked with monitoring Indonesia's forests said that the REDD+ task force was an ad hoc agency, therefore it had no obligation to report to the House.
'The newly established REDD+ agency will have to report their program to the DPR, but the task force did not,' he said. 'The president has not yet appointed the agency chief, but the chief will be on the same level as a minister that is obligated to publish the report.'
Separately, Avi Mahaningtyas, adviser to the Climate and Land Use Alliance, said that what mattered was that the agency could work effectively to speed up conservation programs funded by foreign money.
'This country needs a breakthrough that can cut through all barriers, including the stalled bureaucracy reform. The breakthrough should come from outside the Forestry Ministry and the Environment Ministry, where all the problems are apparently coming from,' Avi said.
'The REDD+ agency is apparently not only about the environment and forestry, in terms of its responsibilities, conflict resolution is also one of them. Can they do it?' she asked referring to the aforementioned ministries.