Govt renews efforts to ratify ASEAN haze agreement

The government will for the second time push the House of Representatives to endorse the ASEAN agreement on haze pollution, an official said on Thursday.

Indonesia is now the only ASEAN member state that has not endorsed the agreement aimed at reducing forest fires and haze pollution.

"From the government side, there has been an agreement to ratify it," Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta told The Jakarta Post from Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

"However, it may take time because it depends on the process at the House."

Gusti was in Kuching, Malaysia, on Thursday attending a two-day ministerial meeting on haze, to discuss actions to address expected land and forest fires in the upcoming dry season.

Gusti did not elaborate when the government planned to submit the bill to the House.

The Environment Ministry is Indonesiaโ€™s focal point on the haze problem.

In 2008, all parties at the House refused to endorse the bill on trans-boundary fire haze, since the bill did not mention illegal logging issues.

The trans-boundary haze agreement was adopted in 2002 and came into effect one year later. The Philippines ratified the agreement in February this year.

The agreement binds signatory countries to take proactive steps to stop haze pollution from land and forest fires within their territories, through strict regulations, heat-seeking satellites and training for firefighters.

Gusti said pressure on Indonesia from other ASEAN member states to ratify the agreement had been softened in the Kuching meeting after the hotspots recorded in Indonesia decreased sharply since 2006.

"I informed [the ministerial meeting] on the decline in numbers of hotspots in Indonesia, despite the absence of ratification," he said.

Hotspots in Kalimantan and Sumatra had declined by 70 percent and 80 percent from 2006 levels, Gusti said.


Email from: Ms. Wahyuningrum (Yuyun)

By: Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
When: 7/2/2014

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