Anew government regulation intended to speed up the acquisition of land for infrastructure projects is set to be finalized by January, a minister said this week.
The new regulation would reduce the amount of time spent negotiating for land and end disruptive land speculation, Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto reportedly said.
It would replace the country’s complicated and often conflicting regulations. Indonesia still uses a 1961 law on land acquisition for public purposes, in conjunction with a presidential decree made in 2005 and revised in 2006.
Investors and government officials who buy land for infrastructure projects often complain about the protracted process under current regulations, blaming speculation and unclear regulations for slowing it down.
Djoko was quoted on the ministry’s official Web site on Thursday as saying the draft of the regulation would ensure that landowners must relinquish their ownership of land if it is acquired for public projects.
A newspaper report on Friday also quoted Djoko as saying that the discussion of the draft involved the Public Works Ministry, National Land Agency (BPN), the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy, the State Secretary’s Office, and local governments.
The draft would be finalized by January, the report said, without mentioning deadlines for its implementation.
The regulation would be a temporary ruling that must be ratified into law no later than one year after it becomes effective.
Wijaya Seta, chief of the land acquisitions sub-directorate at the Public Works Ministry, confirmed the reports when contacted by Jakarta Globe.
He said the government was planning to cut down its maximum negotiation time with land sellers to 60 days, from 120 days under the old regulation.
The government could also push settlements in cases where government representatives and land sellers are deadlocked over prices by handing them over to the courts if 51 percent of the land needed for a designated project had already been acquired.
Currently, the government can only resort to the court-led consignment scheme after 75 percent of the land has been acquired, he said. With the consignment scheme, construction on land can be started even if the matter is still being decided in the courts.
The government also plans to offer incentives to sub-district heads or village heads to encourage them to help speed up the sales process, as they are seen to be influential in determining land prices.
“When we have described the contents of this draft, it has been welcomed by most of the stakeholders. Those who are likely to oppose this draft will be land brokers” Wijaya said.
Fathur Rochman, chairman of the Indonesian Toll Road Association, welcomed the regulation, but reminded the government that it needed to be clear and detailed.
“Land acquisition is the biggest issue in the development of government infrastructure projects,” he said on Friday. “The process is fraught with problems, including overlapping ownership and conflicting spatial planning regulations made by central and regional governments.”
Freeing up land should be the central government’s responsibility, Fathur said, adding that “most of the problems are about the land prices.” A disinterested third-party arbiter, such as the courts or BPN, was vital if acquisitions were to be made quickly and fairly, he said.