The Jakarta Post
The Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry has imposed a one-year deadline on private companies that have received land concessions to move ahead with development.
If the companies fail to do so, their land-cultivation permits (HGU) and their right-to-build licenses (HGB) will be revoked, as their landholdings will be categorized as 'idle land'.
Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Mursydan Baldan told The Jakarta Post in Batam, Riau Islands, on Monday that land in strategic areas like industrial zones and tourism areas linked to unutilized HGU and HGB licenses would be categorized as 'idle land' and the licenses revoked if not used within a period of one year.
'We will make an inventory of all the land in the hands of the private sector attached to HGU and HGB permits. If the land is not utilized within a period of a year, it will be categorized as 'idle land' and the licenses revoked,' said Ferry at the Batam Information and Technology Center.
'It would be better if it [the land] is in the hands of the government,' he added.
Ferry said his ministry was focused on the issue to reduce the amount of high-value land whose economic potential remained unrealized.
'In Riau Islands, especially Batam, we don't want land that has been given to the private sector to lay idle. We will issue a ministerial decree to regulate the matter,' he said.
Ferry cited the thousands of hectares (ha) of land on Bintan Island that had yet to be fully exploited.
'The issue exists on Bintan where we have granted [investors] 1,000 ha, but only 700 ha have been utilized [...] Isn't it wasteful?' Ferry said.
Since 2009, the Batam, Bintan and Karimun (BBK) free-trade zone (FTZ) Council has pledged to repossess land controlled by major companies owned by Soeharto cronies, whose strategic landholdings have sat largely undeveloped.
In 2009, the BBK Council recorded that PT Salim Group, which is owned by Soeharto's closest crony, Liem Sioe Liong, controlled the largest property on Batam, Bintan and Karimun.
At the 23,000-ha Lagoi tourist resort, management has developed just 4,000 ha, while at the 300 ha Lobam Industrial Zone, only 30 ha have been developed.
Since 1980, the Salim Group has enjoyed vast landholdings on the islands of Karimun Anak, Kepala Jeri, Bulan and Sagui, but has failed to develop them.
Meanwhile, Batam Free Trade Zone Authority (BPK FTZ) head Mustofa Widjaja said his office had taken a proactive stance on idle land.
'Regardless of the landowners, annually we have repossessed thousands of ha of land allocated by the BPK FTZ to the private sector because they were not being utilized,' he said.
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