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Jakarta Post

Problems in jobs law not only about labor sector: What we know so far

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, October 9, 2020   /   09:22 pm
Problems in jobs law not only about labor sector: What we know so far A protester sits as the police fire tear gas during a protest against the Job Creation Law on Oct. 8 in Harmoni, Central Jakarta. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

The House of Representatives passed on Monday the controversial omnibus bill on job creation into law, which aims to simplify the business licensing procedure and bring a radical change to the country's labor system and natural resources management.

The process of turning the bill into law was speedy and lacked public input. Perceived by many to violate labor rights, the Job Creation Law prompted thousands to take to the streets in protests in more than a dozen big cities across the country.

The soft copy of the final draft, obtained by The Jakarta Post from the House’s legislative body leadership, is 905 pages long, shorter than the 1,028-page initial draft. It amends 79 laws, including the Labor Law, the Spatial Planning Law and the Environmental Management Law. As of Friday afternoon, the House has yet to distribute copies of the law in an official manner. It also has not officially confirmed whether the 905-page copy is final and binding.

The Post has read documents from civil society groups and scholars that reviewed the law with a critical eye. Due to the size and the complexity of the law, this daily has not finished reading and reviewing all articles. The public discussion has so far centered on labor reform, so this article will focus on separate issues. This is what we know so far:

Lack of public participation

A team of law scholars from Gadjah Mada University’s Law School wrote a policy paper on the omnibus law. In a 28-page document, the team, comprising 10 senior professors including Maria S. W. Sumardjono and Sigit Riyanto, elaborated on problems in the law, from its methodology to its articles.

The document, published in March, used an old draft as the basis of its criticism. The team concluded that the law contained many problems, one of them being the exclusion of a sustainability principle in attracting investment. Another problem it discussed was the “contradiction” between the objective of simplifying regulations and the reality that the law will need about 500 derivative regulations. “It aims at tackling overregulation and regulation overlapping” yet it will likely result in “hyper-regulation”.

Relaxation of environmental standards

The omnibus law relaxes environmental standards for business activities in Law No. 32/2009 on environmental protection and management, a move that is being criticized by experts and environmental groups such as the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL).

The law changes the term “environmental permit” to “environmental approval” and gives the central government the authority on approvals.

A document from the ICEL laid out the 56 revisions to six laws related to the environment including Law No. 32/1990 on the environment. In the 112-page document, the ICEL highlighted several revisions including a revision to Article 24 on environmental law.

The revision stipulates that an environmental impact analysis (Amdal) assessment should be carried out by the central government, which replaces the Amdal Assessment Committee. The committee comprises the environment agency, technical institutions, environmental and technical experts, environmental organizations and public representatives, as well as the central administration’s Due Diligence Agency comprising central and local administration officials and certified experts.

It concludes that the jobs law could “potentially weaken the instruments for environmental protection, civil rights and potentially have a negative impact on the environment”.

The final draft revokes Article 38 in Law No. 32/2009 on environmental protection and management, which stipulates environmental permits can be canceled based on a state administrative court decision, potentially eliminating public access to justice. The list of administrative sanctions in Article 76 of the previous law, ranging from a warning to a permit revocation, has been removed. Details on this stipulation will be regulated in a separate government regulation.

Without concrete evidence, the public can no longer hold accountable those who have generated and/or managed hazardous and toxic waste (B3) that seriously threatens the environment as the sentence "without the need for proof of guilt" has been removed in Article 88 of the final draft, easing the strict liability clause of the provision.

The government's obligation to maintain a minimum 30 percent forest area based on watersheds and/or islands, which was previously stipulated in Article 18 of Forestry Law No. 41/1999, has been removed. This allows the government to maintain a forest area without a minimum limit.

The final draft bill scraps a provision in Article 67 of Plantations Law No. 39/2014, which requires an Amdal, environmental management scheme and environmental monitoring scheme (UKL-UPL), risk analysis and a statement of a company’s ability to prevent forest and land fires as conditions for obtaining a business permit for plantations. Details on this will be regulated in a government regulation (PP).

A protester gets sprayed by water from a canon in jl> Daan Mogot in Tangerang on Oct. 8 during a rally against the passing of the Job Creation Law.A protester gets sprayed by water from a canon in jl> Daan Mogot in Tangerang on Oct. 8 during a rally against the passing of the Job Creation Law. (Antara/Fauzan)

Broadcasting regulations

Nina Mutmainnah, a communications scholar specializing in broadcasting, said in her review of the omnibus law that it changed articles on the Broadcasting Law for revisions that were “not urgent”. She said in a document dated Oct. 8 that “the changes in the jobs law serve to strengthen the domination of giant TV stations and give more authority to the government in regulating the broadcasting industry”.

She said the law removed stipulations on the issuance of permits that were transparent and publicly accountable.

Concerns over building permits

In addition to the environment, the government also relaxed permit requirements for building construction, removing the term "building permit (IMB)”, recognized in Building Law No. 28/2002, and replacing it with "building approval", the technical standards of which will be regulated in a PP.

The new law also revokes licenses for safety, structural requirements, protection against fire and lightning strikes, as well as requirements for health, air, lighting, sanitation, building materials, building comfort, evacuation access and accessibility for disabled visitors.

The three determinants over building height and over whether a building provides enough green open space and regular space for pedestrians, namely the building coefficient, building floor coefficient and boundary line, have also been revoked.