Wed, 19 Nov 2008
Panca Nugraha, The Jakarta Post, Mataram

For many years investors have been holding land use permits on 18,600 hectares of land on Lombok and Sumbawa Islands in West Nusa Tenggara without developing the property.

The provincial chapter National Land Agency (BPN) had issued land use permits to 139 investors between 1993 and 1998.

“Based on identifications we conducted from 2006 to 2008, we found that 18,600 ha of land has not been utilized. We have so far sent a second warning to the investors who hold the HGU permits,” provincial BPN head Gusmin Tuarita told The Jakarta Post in Mataram on Monday.

According to Gusmin, based on identification, generally the investors use their HGU permits as collateral for bank loans, but in this case, they have failed to carry out their planned activities, despite the land being prime properties for tourism, agriculture, estate or livestock breeding.

“If they actually would have carried out their activities, it would have had a favorable impact on the province - as well as absorbing the local manpower - but unfortunately they handed over their permits to the banks to receive loans and have abandoned the land,” he said.

The BPN has faced a dilemma in addressing the issue, including meting out sanctions to the recalcitrant investors, because according to law, the BPN is only allowed to issue three warning letters and can only urge them to transfer the HGU permits to other investors, with compensation.

“We cannot instantly revoke their rights and a warning letter is only valid for one year. So we have spent three years warning some of them,” he said.

As an effort to tackle the issue, Gusmin said the BPN had offered the plots of land to other prospective investors who were serious about investing in the province.

The BPN will facilitate the transfer of the HGUs from the former to the prospective investors.

This year two investors have opened up businesses in the province - PT Bimu Mekar Tani and CNG Biotek Korea.

PT Bumi Mekar Tani has taken over the HGU rights of a Lombok investor in order to raise corn, while CNG Biotek Korea in Dompu regency will grow jatropha crops for biofuel.

“BPN and the provincial investment board will coordinate and further encourage investors who really want to invest in the province,” Gusmin said.

Head of the land potential survey division at the pro-vincial BPN office Joko Pramono said 65 percent of the investors had earlier planned to use the land for tourism, but in terms of area, most of the 18,600 ha were dominated by investors projected to move in for agricultural, estate and livestock breeding purposes.

“The plots earlier planned for tourism are spread throughout nine locations on Lombok and Sumbawa, while the plots for agriculture and livestock breeding are generally located on Sumbawa, covering Sumbawa, Dompu and Bima regencies,” Pramono said.



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