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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        13  June 2011

Infrastructure Push Could Strip Indonesia

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Indonesia has made developing infrastructure its main priority. But the country’s master plan to accelerate the construction of projects and the creation of industrial centers to further lift the economy has been met with growing concerns about the sustainability of its natural resources.

Indonesia faces a high risk of deforestation in the years to come as the nation seeks to implement its stimulus program known as the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth, or MP3EI, Ahmad Mubariq, senior consultant adviser on climate change policy at the World Bank, said on Sunday.

Ahmad, speaking in a session on Indonesia’s biodiversity at the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Jakarta, warned that large swaths of rainforest will be cleared to make way for the projects unless the process is carried out in a transparent manner.

According to the master plan, Sumatra will be developed as an agricultural and national energy center. In other provinces, Kalimantan will focus on mining and energy, Sulawesi-North Maluku on agriculture and fisheries, Bali-Nusa Tenggara on tourism and food, Papua-Maluku on natural and human resources and Java on industry and services.

“Accelerating the development of infrastructure, plantation clusters in Sumatra or establishing mining sites in Kalimantan may lead to an increase in deforestation,” said Mubariq, who is also a member of the Global Agenda Council on Ecosystems and Biodiversity. The government’s Rp 4,000 trillion ($470 billion) plan is designed to boost the country’s gross domestic product to $4.5 trillion by 2025 and position Indonesia into the world’s top 12 economies by 2025.

Still, some state officials downplayed concerns of increasing deforestation, saying that the government had carefully planned the MP3EI so that it would not overlap with the preservation of forests.

“We have accounted for sustainability issues in the master plan,’’ Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat told the forum. “The projects are situated in lands that are not marked for conservation.”

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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