Mon, 09 Aug 2010

From: The Jakarta Globe

By Camelia Pasandaran
The government plans to finalize a draft bill this week that regulates land acquisition for public purposes. The legislation aims to improve infrastructure and ease traffic flow.

The government hoped to present it to the House of Representatives soon, a spokesman for Vice President Boediono said on Sunday.

“It’s targeted to be finished this coming week,” Yopie Hidayat told the Jakarta Globe, adding that the government intended to make the bill the centerpiece of its efforts to solve problems - such as traffic jams - caused by poor infrastructure.

Investors and government agencies who buy land for infrastructure projects often complain about the protracted process existing regulations create.

Several recent infrastructure projects have been hampered by land-acquisition problems, including the Trans Java toll road. Only 24 percent of the land needed for the 650-kilometer road has been acquired, meaning it won’t be completed for an estimated three years.

Yopie said that once the draft was finalized it would be presented at a cabinet meeting within a couple of weeks.

When it comes to acquiring land for public purposes, Indonesia is constrained by a law dating back to 1961, as well as by a presidential decree issued in 2005 and revised in 2006.

Joyo Winoto, head of the National Land Agency (BPN) said in April that the regulations in place existed to protect private property owners’ rights, but when expropriation was required, “the procedure is complicated and time-consuming.”

Joyo advocates the creation of a law to regulate public-use land procurement, in order to strengthen the process’s legal basis.

Still, the government will have to take into account public resistance, which has risen in recent years as people fear a return to the ways of the Suharto government, which routinely forced landowners to surrender their property.

In the upcoming draft bill, Yopie said the government highlighted five principles.

The first is that land appropriation for public purposes should not be hampered.

Second, landowners will not suffer losses if their land is taken. “There will be a comprehensive system regarding compensation and financing,” Yopie said.

Third, the law aims to limit the opportunity for speculators. When plans for a government project surface, real estate speculators often buy the targeted land at a cheap price, before flipping it to the government for a huge profit.

“The fourth principle is that land appropriation procedures should conform to best international practices,” Yopie said. “Joyo has already conducted comparison studies of several countries. The law should be democratic, not repressive, nor cause losses to the landowners.”

The fifth principle is that land appropriation should be take into account current land disputes in Indonesia and be respectful of the history of the people in order to minimize conflict.

Yopie said the new law would not cover technical details, only the main substance of the government’s efforts, which technical regulations implemented later.

“We practically never involve the House in drafting regulations. It will only offer technical guidance on how to execute the law,” he said. “We want the drafting of the bill to be finished soon.”

Yopie said the bill was also aimed to give certainty to investors and the business world.