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Indonesia: Human Rights consequences of illegal timber industry (HRW report)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) publicou onte un informe sobre Indonesia, centrado nas consecuencias humanitarias da industria forestal clandestina. Indonesia é, con 230 millóns de habitantes, o cuarto país máis poboado do mundo. É ademais a segunda potencia mundial en industria forestal, so por detrás de Brasil. Pero máis da metade desa industria opera ilegalmente e así, as comunidades que sofren a deforestación non reciben nin o beneficio indirecto dos impostos…

O informe leva por título “Wild Money” — The Human Rights Consequences of Illegal Logging and Corruption in Indonesia’s Forestry Sector. Copio un extracto da súa introducción:

Indonesia has one of the world’s largest areas of remaining forest but also one of the world’s highest deforestation rates. Reported exports from its lucrative timber sector were worth $US6.6 billion in 2007, second only to Brazil and worth some $2 billion more than all African and Central American nations combined. But in recent years almost half of all Indonesian timber has been logged illegally at a staggering cost to the Indonesian economy and public welfare.

In this report HRW details these costs and their human rights impacts. Using industry-standard methodology, we estimate that the Indonesian government lost an average of nearly $2 billion annually between 2003 and 2006 due to illegal logging, corruption, and mismanagement. The total includes: forest taxes and royalties never collected on illegally harvested timber; shortfalls due to massive unacknowledged subsidies to the forestry industry (including basing taxes on artificially low market price and exchange rates); and losses from tax evasion by exporters practicing a scam known as “transfer pricing”. […]

As staggering as this loss is, our calculation does not include losses from smuggling, evasion of other taxes such as income tax, nor from taxes that were assessed on legal wood but never actually collected. Further, the calculation of losses from illegal logging also does not include a significant portion of the country’s sawmill industry, as mills with processing capacities of less than 6000 cubic meters per year are not required to report their wood consumption to the ministry.

The domestic consequences of lost government revenue and forestry sector mismanagement are far-reaching. The devastating impact of corruption and mismanagement on precious natural forests and the livelihoods of the country’s rural poor who depend on these forests have been well documented. In this report, we document an often-overlooked toll of this destruction, the widespread spillover effects of corruption on governance and human rights. The individuals responsible for these losses are rarely held accountable, in part because some officials in both law enforcement and the judiciary are also deeply corrupted by illegal logging interests. This impunity undermines respect for human rights. In addition, the ability of citizens to hold the government accountable is curtailed by a lack of access to public information.

Further, the opportunity costs of the lost revenue are huge: funds desperately needed for essential services that could help Indonesia meet its human rights obligations in areas such as health care go instead into the pockets of timber executives and corrupt officials. Corruption and untransparent, unaccountable revenue flows in Indonesia are so widespread that a new expression has come into common usage in the Indonesian language for such uncontrolled funds, “wild money” (dana liar).

To give one stark illustration: between 2003 and 2006, the annual revenue lost to corruption and mismanagement in the timber sector was equal to the entire health spending at national, provincial, and district levels combined. The average $2 billion annual loss is also equal to the amount that World Bank health experts estimate would be sufficient to provide a package of basic health care benefits to 100 million of the nation’s poorest citizens for almost two years.

Indonesian citizens living closest to the forests have borne the brunt of unbridled forest destruction, yet these communities remain locked in poverty without basic services. Text boxes throughout this report illustrate those consequences through a detailed look at conditions in once heavily forested West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). In 2006 the loss of government revenue to illegal logging exceeded the total provincial budget and dwarfs the amount the province spent on health and education combined.

The failures in the timber sector also have important international ramifications. Pressure to address climate change has created a booming interest among international financial institutions, bilateral donors, and private sector traders in markets to offset carbon emissions through direct payments to countries like Indonesia, whose extensive but endangered forests act as global carbon sinks. Without dramatic improvements in the governance of Indonesia’s timber sector, including improvements to transparency and enforcement of forestry and anti-corruption laws, investors can have no confidence that the offset payments will in fact go to the preservation of forests as a means to avoid carbon emissions rather than to further fund a deeply mismanaged and corrupt system. […]

1 Decembro 2009 - Posted by | Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Indonesia, Nature, Politics

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