The plan by the House of Representatives to deliberate the omnibus law has made people suspicious. The legislative process must be stopped.
THE sensitivity of the House of Representatives (DPR) has reached an all-time low. It is insisting on deliberating the job creation bill when everybody is concentrating fully on the endeavor to limit the spread of Covid-19. As in the past, the representatives are busy with their own agenda.
The DPR is to hold a meeting with the government this week, and will also establish a job creation bill working committee. The legislature has promised to accommodate the people’s aspirations, including those of laborers and experts, but provide no evidence for it. In the midst of a health emergency and the introduction of large-scale social restrictions in Jakarta, their reasoning for continuing to work simply makes no sense.
The decision by the DPR has made people suspicious because we know that from the outset, the deliberations of the omnibus law have been flawed. The coordinating ministry for the economy only consulted with a small group dominated by businesspeople when deliberating the bill intended to maximize investment. The public had no access at all to the academic documents and the bill under preparation. This secretive stance by the government made it much easier for political and economic oligarchies to include provisions in line with their interests.
Many know that the contents of the clean sweep bill only benefit a small number of businesspeople who are close to those in power. One beneficiary is corporations holding mining permits. Under this omnibus bill, they will automatically obtain extensions of coal mining contracts that have expired without needing to go through a tender process. The size of the land concessions after the contract extension will no longer be limited as they currently are under the Mineral and Coal Law.
As a sweetener for investors, the government also relaxed the requirements for building permits and environmental impact analyses. The loosening of these requirements has the potential to damage the ecosystem. After all, these instruments were put in place to protect the environment. Unfortunately, the cost of restoring environmental damage could be greater than the total of the investments resulting from the omnibus law.
The concessions for mining and environmental impact analysis are only a small part of the dozens of components within this bill. There are still many others that are controversial, including those related to the use of forests, the period of land use rights and labor regulations. If the DPR passes the job creation bill, it is not impossible that it will lead to an unbalanced economic system.
A regulation to attract more investment and to make it easier for the recruitment of workers is now no longer relevant. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many companies collapsing. This has occurred in the automotive, oil and gas, tourist and hotel and aviation industries. It is certain that companies will wait before making new investments—including recruitment of new employees.
The latest research by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development indicates that the massive scale of the coronavirus pandemic will reduce foreign investment on a global level, including in Indonesia, by 40 percent from initial projections.
In order to demonstrate more empathy with a people fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic, the DPR members should halt deliberations of the job creation bill. It is time they helped the government to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. One way to do this would be to monitor the distribution of social security funds so that they reach the people that need them sooner.