Transparency and accountability are critical preconditions in mining governance. Those two principles are keys of meaningful public participation in monitoring the mining sector, both the externalities and the contribution for economic development. On this regard, Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Indonesia along with SOMASI NTB held a public discussion entitled “Transparency and Accountability of Mining Governance in West Nusa Tenggara” last (18/6) in Mataram.

Mining sector still holds an important role in the local economy, even though the trend is continuously decreasing along with the growth of other sectors. In total, there are 278 mining permits in the West Nusa Tenggara Province with a total area of 190,000 hectares, 10% of the land area of the province.

“West Nusa Tenggara is not immune to mining problems. There are 11 mining permits of 36,519 hectares in the protection and conservation forests, which is clearly prohibited by the 1999 Forestry Law. This problem reaffirms the importance of public oversight in the mining sector. But, again, how we can take part in monitoring if mining permit data is difficult to obtain,” said Johan Rahmatulloh, researcher of SOMASI NTB, in opening the discussion.

Johan’s statement is referring to the findings of the rapid assessment conducted by PWYP Indonesia and SOMASI NTB in the last five months to assess the state of mining permit transparency in West Nusa Tenggara, as well as the room for improvement. Johan added that the law has clearly mandated to disclose public information, including mining permit-related information. However, the practice states otherwise.

“We find the inconsistency of provincial agencies in West Nusa Tenggara in implementing the mandate of information openness. There is an indication of one agency threw the responsibility on others. This was experienced by our community when accessing the mining permit document,” said Johan.

Responding to the findings, Mastari, Head of Mineral and Coal mining, Provincial Agency of Energy and Mineral Resources of West Nusa Tenggara, reaffirmed the commitment of her agency in information openness. “We have never covered up mining permit data. If anyone asks, for sure we give it. However, we are not authorized to provide them. We only provide technical considerations, not those who issue the permits,” said Mastari.

Since the enactment of One-Stop Service policy, mining licensing in the province is delegated to Investment and One-Stop Service Agency. While the role of Energy and Mineral Resource Agency is to formulate technical consideration. Nevertheless, it should not prevent the agency from providing mine permit documents. Referring to the definition of public information in the Public Information Disclosure Law, public information is defined as information that is produced, stored, managed, sent and or received by public bodies. But there is no understanding of this among participants who attended, especially from government officials.

In another hand, West Nusa Tenggara Province is currently drafting the Local Regulation (Perda) regarding mining. However, as acknowledged by H. Sofwan, lecturer of Mataram University as well as the legal drafter, there has not been much discussion on the aspects of transparency and accountability in the latest draft. There are no regulations on people’s access to mining-related information. The chapter about information only covers the mandate of the provincial government to develop an information system for internal purpose.

Sofwan added that, ideally, people’s right to information has to be accompanied by the government’s obligation to provide information. This is to ensure equitable access to information. If not, only the one who has the capacity to access is benefited.

“I believe the door is still wide open for any input, especially to add a chapter on transparency and accountability in the draft of Perda. If not, we still can put them in the technical regulation, such as Governor Regulation,” said Sofwan.

Maryati Abdullah, National Coordinator of PWYP Indonesia emphasized that transparency and accountability of mining governance are not only merely the interest of civil society. Both government and private sector are benefited. For instance, it can foster public trust, reduce the potential of corruption, develop fair competition and improve economic development.

“Many things can be done by the government to implement the principles of transparency and accountability. For instance, implementing pro-active disclosure and involving multi-stakeholders in the decision-making process. Also, participating in the global openness initiative,” said Maryati.