Minister indicates dishonesty of APRIL’s management 

(foresthints.news) - Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Dr Siti Nurbaya has confirmed that she received first-hand information, which made up the substance of a report she prepared for President Joko Widodo, on the operational level of PT RAPP, a subsidiary of pulp and paper giant APRIL. This information was obtained by means of an incognito ground-check (Oct 20) of the company’s mill at Pangkalan Kerinci in Sumatra’s Riau province.

The incognito inspection was conducted after the management of the APRIL company held a press conference (Oct 19) to announce the termination of the company’s operations, effective from 00:00 (Oct 18), and also that it would gradually be laying off large numbers of its employees.

APRIL decided to take these actions after the annulment of PT RAPP’s existing 10-year work plan by the minister (Oct 16), at which time the Singapore-based company was given 10 days to submit a revised work plan consistent with Indonesia’s new set of peat regulations.

However, as clearly demonstrated by the photos below, which were presented by Minister Siti Nurbaya, the APRIL company was still operating as usual at the time of the inspection (Oct 20), despite the announcement that its operations had been brought to an end two days previously at midnight (Oct 18).

The minister explained to foresthints.news (Oct 21) at the ministry building how she had recognized untruthfulness on APRIL’s part and conveyed this to relevant ministry officials. “I indicated very clearly that there were signs of dishonesty from APRIL’s management.”

She continued with her damning assessment of APRIL’s conduct: “There is a tendency from APRIL to manipulate information, including information given to the Vice President. I am grateful for the support of the Vice President (in this matter).”

“Data on the stock of acacia logs currently in its mill, along with the proof that acacia logs are still going into the mill and the mill’s operations continue unabated, mean that PT RAPP should no longer try to divert us from the truth. They have to submit their revised work plan, which must be in line with the new peat regulations, by the deadline (Oct 26),” the minister reaffirmed.

The minister went on to issue a strong warning about two important aspects of the company’s operations. “They must not play around with the fate of their employees and also not play around when it comes to peat.” 

In concluding her conversation with foresthints.news, Minister Siti Nurbaya emphasized that one of the government’s main priorities is to ensure a successful staging of the 2018 Asian Games, to which Indonesia plays host in August and September next year, pointing out the threat posed to the prestigious competition by haze-inducing fires.

“We cannot allow haze to disrupt the holding of the Asian Games, especially seeing that August is generally the height of summer in Indonesia (when many peat fires typically occur).”

Forest Business Association bears witness

Bambang Hendroyono, the Ministry’s Secretary General, and Putera Parthama, Director General of Sustainable Forest Production Management, were tasked with carrying out the incognito ground-check of PT RAPP’s mill.

The ministry team, led by these two high-ranking officials, was joined by Executive Director of the Indonesian Forest Business Association (APHI) Purwadi Soeprihanto, who had been asked by Minister Siti Nurbaya to witness exactly what was going on at the mill.

The photos below were taken while the incognito inspection by the ministry team, as witnessed by the APHI representative, was underway.

Purwadi responded in writing to questions from foresthints.news (Oct 21) concerning the APRIL company’s lack of compliance, particularly in terms of its failure to submit a revised work plan that adheres to the new peat regulations.

“We are very concerned about the situation involving PT RAPP. At APHI, we will keep urging PT RAPP to comply.”

The APHI executive director elaborated further on the issue: “We are well-informed about the deadline for the submission of a revised work plan from PT RAPP to the ministry. This is precisely what we are pushing the company to do.”

Purwadi added that, in principle, the association’s duty is to ensure all of its members remain within the corridor of legal compliance while facilitating them to sustain their businesses.

As previously reported by foresthints.news (Oct 19), nine pulpwood companies under the control of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), all of which operate in Sumatra, have gained approval for their revised work plans which incorporate the new peat regulations. This stands in stark contrast to APRIL’s efforts.