Fri, 24 Nov 2000

VP: Limited means for eco-friendly development

NUSA DUA, Bali (JP): Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri admitted that the Indonesian government has limited resources to design a sustainable and environment-friendly development strategy.

Addressing the opening of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) regional summit on Thursday, the Vice President lamented the fact that certain countries had tried to exploit Indonesia's shortcoming in environmental management to push for concessions in trade.

"We fully understand our knowledge and capability in drafting such a (sustainable) policy and managing it in an effective manner, remains insufficient.

"(But) it's unfair if some of us have to face threats of sanctions while facing difficulties and committing mistakes only because of inadequate knowledge and proficiency," Megawat said.

She said like other countries, Indonesia had never intended to design a national development plan which puts the environment at stake.

No less than 40 senior officials and ministers, representatives of 16 countries and international organizations, and some 63 businesspeople are attending the four-day meeting.

Earlier in the day, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnama Yusgiantoro said participants in the conference would seek and share ideas on sustainable development. The proposal drafted in the meeting will be presented to the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development in New York in April next year.

"We also expect to agree on a sort of declaration and action program," Purnomo said.

Separately, director general of oil and gas Rachmat Sudibyo said for the sake of sustainable development, the government is intensifying efforts to find alternative energy sources.

"Gas is the most likely choice, which can be used also for vehicles. We are developing an integrated distribution system of gas through pipes which in the future will link Sumatra and all parts of Java," Rachmat said.

Indonesia's oil reserves of nine billion barrels will be depleted in 18 to 20 years at the current annual consumption rate of 500 million barrels. (zan)