USD21.7 million channeled to governors for peat restoration

(foresthints.news) - The Indonesian Ministry of the Environment and Forestry has channeled more than USD21.71 million in state funds to the seven governors whose provinces are designated as peat restoration priority provinces.

These funds are intended to enable the provincial governors concerned to carry out the tasks assigned to them by the ministry by implementing field-based programs to support the acceleration of peat restoration.

This means that the seven governors are legally required to report on and be accountable for the execution of these tasks to the assignee, in this case Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya.

Data obtained by foresthints.news (Feb 9) indicates that Central Kalimantan province has acquired state funds amounting to around USD6.39 million from the ministry (the most of all the seven priority provinces), while the provinces of Riau and South Sumatra have received approximately USD3.67 million and USD3.39 million respectively.

The province of West Kalimantan has obtained USD3.12 million, while USD2.90 million has been distributed to Jambi province and USD1.96 million to South Kalimantan province. The province of Papua, meanwhile, has received the lowest amount of state funds of the seven peat restoration priority provinces, at just under USD300 thousand.

This fiscal mechanism has been adopted in an effort to address last year’s extremely poor budget absorption for peat restoration efforts, by distributing the bulk of the state’s peat restoration funds directly to the seven priority provinces themselves.

Misleading budget figure

Meanwhile, Indonesian peat agency chief Nazir Foead has given an inaccurate figure on the peat agency’s 2017 budget to the online American popular science magazine scientificamerican.com (Jan 31). He is quoted as saying “in 2017 the government allocated about USD35 million for peatland restoration.”

Nazir’s statement is clearly completely misleading, considering that the Indonesian government actually allocated around USD65 million in state funds to the peat agency in 2017. As it turned out, the peat agency failed to utilize as much as USD34 million of these funds over the course of last year, as previously reported by foresthints.news (Jan 19).

The two tables below provide evidence that the actual budget allocated to the peat agency in 2017 was roughly USD65 million, 50% of which was subsequently cut owing to a budget absorption which stood at a paltry 1.2% by June last year.

The facts outlined above reinforce that the allocation of state funds from the Indonesian government to the peat agency was in reality very significant in 2017.

In other words, there was no lack of funds but rather it was the peat agency which hopelessly underperformed in utilizing the ample budget allocated to it.

It is essential that the misleading budget figure reported by scientificamerican.com is corrected because it makes it appear as if the Indonesian government only allocated USD35 million for the peat agency’s 2017 budget. 

It is worth reiterating however that, in truth, the Indonesian government allocated USD65 million - not USD35 million - to the peat agency and that this agency did not manage to spend USD34 million of these funds.

The peat agency was formed by President Joko Widodo in early January 2016 for the purpose of expediting the restoration of 2015’s burned peat areas. It goes without saying that the agency’s poor budget absorption performance last year has had an adverse effect on the expected peat restoration acceleration efforts.