WALHI blasts natural resource extraction-based development


The Indonesian environment organization Walhi has criticized development based upon exploiting natural resources since the policy endangers environmental conditions and the public`s safety. "Development based on natural resource extraction has caused marginalization and restlessness," the executive director of the South Kalimantan chapter of the organization, Hegar Wahyu Hidayt, said in a statement received here on Saturday. He added that development based upon natural resource exploitation would only create pseudo-prosperity and is vulnerable to social conflicts. In view of that, Walhi has criticized the policy and demanded government officials become more sensitive towards public protection and ecological balance, he said. "Restoring the people`s rights and Indonesia`s ecology can no longer be bargained away," he said. Sharing this view, Zulfahmi, forest campaign spokesman of Greenpeace Indonesia, expressed hope that the government would review the process of development, including licensing for forest exploitation, in the framework of a moratorium on exploiting forests. Additionally, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) says funds that have been invested in the country are mainly used for exploiting natural resources for exports. "So far, investment that came in have only been used to exploit natural resources for exports in the form of raw materials, thus giving no added value. This has made the competitiveness of domestic products continue to drop," Kadin general chairman Suryo Bambang Sulisto said here on Monday (Sept 17). He noted that weakened national competitiveness could also be seen from several indicators, comparing Indonesia`s economic policy with that of other countries in terms of interest rates, electricity costs, transportation tariffs and taxes. He said interest rates in Indonesia are the highest among several ASEAN countries. "The gap has made it difficult for national industries to compete in the international markets," he said. (The Jakarta Post)