Greenpeace Skeptical of Firm?s Deforestation Claim
Jakarta. Greenpeace Indonesia has welcomed an announcement by the Royal Golden Eagle Group?s oil palm plantation company Asian Agri and palm oil trading arm Apical that their new sustainability policies aim to tackle their impact on Indonesia?s forests, but the environmental group notes that other companies in the group are still destroying the country?s forests.
Monday?s announcement of new environmental commitments by Asian Agri and Apical, palm oil businesses owned by Sukanto Tanoto, come as his family?s pulp companies, APRIL and Toba Pulp Lestari, continue to destroy Indonesia?s rainforests, Greenpeace said in a press release on Tuesday.
On Padang Island in Sumatra, bulldozers are continuing to clear forests on deep peatland, it said.
Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace?s Indonesian forests campaign, said that while he welcomed the announcement, he saw it as a missed opportunity by the RGE Group to address its real impact on the rainforests of Indonesia.
?We note the announcement of new commitments by Asian Agri and Apical, but why are RGE?s pulp companies, including APRIL and Toba Pulp Lestari, allowed to continue with deforestation? Questions also remain about how these new palm oil policies will apply to minority shareholdings, third-party suppliers and new acquisitions,? Bustar said in Jakarta.
Greenpeace has called on RGE to immediately implement no-deforestation commitments that apply to all pulp and palm oil businesses that are owned or controlled by the Tanoto family.
Separately on Tuesday, Asia Pulp and Paper announced in a press release that it had signed the New York Declaration on Forests at the UN Climate Summit to help tackle climate change.
Teguh Ganda Wijaya, the APP chairman, joined a number of officials from other companies, governments and NGOs to sign the New York Declaration on Forests at an event at the UN Climate Summit 2014.
The declaration is an unprecedented international, multi-sector commitment to safeguard the world?s forests and to help tackle climate change, the group said.
The signatories said they had committed to a vision of slowing, halting, and reversing global forest loss while simultaneously contributing to economic growth, poverty alleviation, rule of law preservation, food security, climate resilience and biodiversity conservation.
Teguh said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had done the planet and some of its most critical ecosystems a great service in convening the ground-breaking meeting of governments, global business leaders and NGOs.
?Business can take the lead in delivering these commitments, but we must work closely with all stakeholders, including governments and NGOs, to truly tackle deforestation and climate change. One of the most effective ways to do this is by conserving forests, planting trees,? he said.
The declaration highlights that reducing emissions from deforestation and increasing forest restoration are key to tackling climate change, the signatories said.
All participants must strive to at least halve the rate of loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and end natural forest loss by 2030.
At the same time they plan to restore 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes and forestlands by 2020. They also aim to significantly increase the rate of global forest restoration thereafter, which would restore at least an additional 200 million hectares by 2030.
Funds Allotted to Help Poor After October Fuel Price Hike
Jakarta. The Indonesian government is setting aside a total of Rp 10 trillion ($830 million) to help poor people get through a period of rising inflation when an expected hike in subsidized fuel prices takes effect.
Finance Minister M. Chatib Basri told reporters on Tuesday that the government had already allocated Rp 5 trillion in funds for ?social safety programs? in the revised 2014 state budget to anticipate the likely fuel price hike later this year.
This would be enough to cover direct cash transfers to help the poor cope with rising prices for three months after the government raise the fuel price. Bank Indonesia, the central bank, has said that a price increase could send the inflation rate to 9 percent, from just 4 percent currently.
?We have also proposed another Rp 5 trillion for 2015. It depends on the 2015 [House of Representatives] to approve it or not,? Chatib said.
President-elect Joko Widodo plans to increase the subsidized fuel price by Rp 3,000 a liter after his inauguration on Oct. 20, according to president adviser Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, as quoted by Reuters.
Chatib said that the Joko-led administration would not need the House?s approval to increase the subsidized fuel price this year.
The House and government agreed on Monday to increase the fuel subsidy to Rp 276 trillion next year, from Rp 246.5 trillion this year.
Aberdeen Says Indonesian Regulator Approves NISP Asset Acquisition
[caption id="attachment_295282" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Financial Services Authority (OJK)'s headquarters in Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of OJK)[/caption]
Jakarta. The Indonesian regulator has approved the plan of European fund management company Aberdeen Asset Management to acquire an 80 percent stake in NISP Asset Management, a local asset management company, Aberdeen said in a statement on Tuesday.
Aberdeen is set to acquire NISP Asset Management ? which is now fully owned by NISP Sekuritas ? through its Singapore unit Aberdeen Asset Management Asia. The European fund has signed a conditional sale and purchase agreement with NISP Sekuritas for the acquisition.
?The OJK [Financial Services Authority]?s approval on Sept. 18, 2014, follows approval by Aberdeen Asset Management Asia?s home regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Receipt of these regulatory approvals now paves the way for a formal change of control, which is expected to take place in November,? Aberdeen said in the statement.
OJK is the Indonesian regulator for the banking sector, capital markets and non-bank financial institutions.
Following the shareholder change, NISP Asset Management, which currently manages around $300 million in assets, will be named PT Aberdeen Asset Management.
Aberdeen said NISP Asset Management will continue to be led by Sigit Wiryadi, the chief executive at the Indonesian fund manager since 2011, after the acquisition.
?The integration of the company onto Aberdeen?s global operating platform has started. The OJK?s approval now puts this into motion formally,? Sigit said in the statement.
?As part of the integration, we plan to add to the existing team, move to new offices and re-brand in the coming months. Altogether, progress has been good and we are excited about our future as part of the Aberdeen Group,? he said.
Aberdeen is a global asset management group that has a presence in 0ver 23 countries worldwide. The group is involved in various businesses, including asset management, equities, fixed income, property as well as multi-asset portfolios.
The statement said that as of June 30, 2014, Aberdeen managed $551.4 billion worth of funds on behalf of its clients, both institutional and private investors. Almost $110 billion is from Asia.
Graphic Warnings Begin to Appear on Cigarette Packs in Costa Rica
Costa Rica has taken another important step to protect public health from the terrible toll of tobacco use, which is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide.
Starting last week, pictorial warning labels are required on cigarette packs sold in Costa Rica. The new warnings cover 50 percent of both the front and back of cigarette packs and feature gruesome images depicting the consequences of smoking, as well as text warnings. Retailers and suppliers have a two-month grace period to sell their stock of old packs.
Newspaper Editorials Laud CVS for Quitting Tobacco, Urge Other Retailers to F...
On September 3, CVS Health announced that it has ended tobacco sales for good at its 7,700 retail pharmacies. In doing so, CVS sent a powerful message: Responsible retailers — especially those that provide health care through pharmacies and clinics – should not be in the business of selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, the number one cause of preventable death.
Newspaper editorials across the country have applauded CVS and called on other retailers to follow CVS's example.
Philip Morris International Fined in Brazil for Targeting Youth with its ?Be ...
Philip Morris International's “Be Marlboro” campaign is coming under fire again for targeting youth. This time, the consumer protection agency from the Brazilian state of São Paulo has fined Philip Morris over $480,000.
The agency acted after a formal complaint was filed against Philip Morris by tobacco control activists who documented how its marketing tactics were aimed at youth. Paula Johns, Executive Director of the Brazilian advocacy organization ACT, calls the campaign "cynical", noting that “independence and autonomy are associated with a product that actually makes the person dependent."
Other opinions: Yudhoyono?s political move
The Democratic Party has finally declared its political stance regarding
the bill on regional elections. The party, headed by Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono, affirmed its support for the system of direct regional
elections and noted 10 points of improvement.
Editorial: Warming up for climate talks
In New York, the UN Climate Summit was opened Tuesday by UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to smooth the way for talks scheduled in
December and next year in Paris, aimed at finalizing a new global
agreement on curbing climate change.
Bill gives power back to Jakarta
Almost drowned out by the controversies surrounding the regional
elections (Pilkada) bill, the deliberation of an amendment to the 2004
law on regional administrations went almost unnoticed in spite of the
possible consequences that it could bring back practices from the New
Order era, during which the central government wielded ultimate control
over local affairs.