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$5.2B losses from forest, land fires in Indonesia: World Bank

Military personel help ground firefighters in South Sumatra to douse raging fires. PHOTO: INDONESIA DISASTER MANAGEMENT AGENCY (BNPB). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Dec 12, 2019, ANTARA. Land and forest fires that affected several parts of Indonesia from June to October 2019 inflicted losses of US$5.2 billion, or 0.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank. The fires were the worst since 2015 and caused thick smoke, the World Bank revealed in its report Indonesia Economic Quarterly for the December 2019 period, ANTARA reported.

“Speaking about natural resources, sometimes there are forest fires on peatland which has inflicted a loss of up to US$5.2 billion on the state,” lead economist of the World Bank for Indonesia Frederico Gil Sander said in Jakarta, Wednesday.

The Indonesian economic growth suffered a drastic 0.9 percent reversal as the fires devastated wood which was supposed to be harvested or marketed in five years, the report said.

The haze caused by the forest fires blanketed several parts of Indonesia and neighboring states, thereby causing other countries to give a negative perspective to the palm oil industry.

This can be seen from the declining demand for palm oil in European countries which have refused to use palm oil-based fuels starting 2030.

The report also noted that more than 900 thousand people suffered respiratory illnesses as of September 2019 and operations at 12 national airports were disturbed due to the forest fires.

“Hundreds of schools in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore were closed for the time being,” he said.

The fires burned 620,021 hectares of land and forests in eight provinces, equivalent to nine times of the special capital province of Jakarta.

The provinces are Central Kalimantan, South Sumatra, South Kalimantan, Riau, West Kalimantan, Jambi, East Kalimantan and Papua, he said.

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