Thu, 13 Oct 1994

Poor green laws attract dirty industries

JAKARTA (JP): Many national and multinational firms once forced to close down their dirty industries due to strict local environmental regulations, are now shifting investment and production to countries with less stringent rules.

Prof. Rolf-Ulrich Sprenger, Director of Environmental Economic Division, at the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich, Germany, said yesterday that slack environmental regulations, along with traditional determinants like cheap labor and energy costs, and an abundant natural resources supply, had attracted foreign investment.

"According to several surveys in West Germany during the last decade, environmental considerations were generally one of the less important reasons to invest abroad," Sprenger told a seminar on environment and manpower organized by the Indonesian Manpower Foundation (YTKI) and the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation (FES).

Industrial relocation is one of the numerous negative effects of poor enforcement of environmental regulations. Sprenger observed that there might be some other negative effects like the loss of jobs due to the closure of polluting plants or project cancellations and delays, but he underlined that the negative effects were outnumbered by the positive ones.

He said that environmental programs have created thousands of jobs in the pollution control equipment industry, the construction industry, environmental research and development, the operations and maintenance of pollution control equipment, municipalities and government environmental agencies.

"A study prepared for the United States assessed the annual impact of environmental expenditures on employment at approximately 4 million jobs in 1992," he said, adding that the figures represented about three percent of total employment.

Three surveys in West Germany in the past decade also showed how the environmental field has benefited the job market. In 1990 there were 546,000 working in the field, or 1.9 percent of the employment in West Germany.

Koesnadi Hardjasoemantri, a professor from the law schools of the Gadjah Mada University and the University of Indonesia, supported Sprenger's argument that environmental programs would increase employment opportunities.

He said that the implementation of environmental policies carried out through environmental regulations called for ample manpower.


The lack of personnel and professionalism were two of the factors that had hampered the implementation the environmental law in this country, according to Koesnadi.

"Upgrading courses should be provided on a regular basis to police, prosecutors, judges and counselors to ascertain an up-to- date knowledge of environmental regulations for proper law enforcement," Koesnadi said.

State Minister of Environment/Head of the Agency for the Environmental Impact Management (Bapedal) Sarwono Kusumaatmadja said in his written speech presented by the agency deputy head, PL Coutrier, that all companies, big, small or medium (SEM), should pay attention to the environment.

"SEMs expanding in the textile, electroplating, and food and beverage sectors are known to be pollution intensive and significantly impact the local environment in which they operate," he said.(sim)