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Jokowi slams lack of reforms in forestry

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, criticised the lack of progress in reforming the country's forestry sector on Wednesday, calling for better management that benefits both the environment and the economy.

Mr Joko, who studied forestry in his university days, said there has to be "corrective action" to make breakthroughs.

"For a long time now, I'm sorry to say, our forest management has been a monotonous routine. There have been no breakthroughs," he said during a belated commemoration of Environment Day at the Environment and Forestry Ministry.

Mr Joko also kicked off the ministry's national working meeting, which gathers ministers, lawmakers and NGOs to discuss issues ranging from forests to climate change.

"We have been doing project-oriented programmes for a long time. I can mention the cases one by one, but if I open them here, it could cause a furore," he said.

The harsh appraisal came as the country faces a continuous threat from forest and peatland fires in various provinces, which result in haze that causes health problems. It wasrevealed on Sunday that there were 239 hot spots in the country, mostly in West Kalimantan, Aceh and East Nusa Tenggara.

The current threat from fires has painted a challenging outlook for the Jokowi administration, which has worked to implement numerous policies on forest and peatland protection since deadly forest fires in 2015, in which 19 people died.

Mr Joko said there has to be a clear distinction between protected forests and production forests, and permit issuance could ease the problem. He said in a harsh tone: "Permit issuance must be correctly managed. Don't easily issue a permit. Stop that. I say, stop that." - THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

HazeindonesiaJoko Widodo