Norman Harsono, Jakarta – The Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry has announced it will register 10 million new plots of land this year, one million more than the initial target of 9 million set in 2015, following President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's order to expedite land certification.
The increase came because the ministry exceeded last year's land certification target by 133 percent, certifying 9.3 million plots of land, said Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil.
"I don't dare share the exact target now, except that it's above 10 million [registered lands]. Although, internally, we already have a predicted number," he said at a recent event in Jakarta.
However, Sofyan acknowledged that only 64.5 percent of the registered plots of land last year were certified, equal to 6 million plots of land. The remaining 35.5 percent, he said, either lacked certain documents or were subject to legal disputes.
As of 2018, the ministry had certified a total of 13.5 million plots of land since 2015, when the land certification program started. The total number was slightly above the initial target of 13 million set in 2015.
The ministry's Agrarian Planning Director General Muhammad Ikhsan was confident his side could reach a higher certification percentage following the issuance of Presidential Regulation No. 86/2018 on agrarian reform in September last year.
"It [the regulation] will give us greater authority to execute land reform," he said during the same event.
He said that given each plot of land was between one and two hectares, the ministry would have registered up to 18.6 million ha of land this year and would register 20 million ha next year.
As part of his land reform promises, Jokowi institutionalized the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry – formerly the National Land Agency (BPN) – to carry out his ambition of certifying all land by 2025 and, thus, improve the security of land tenure among Indonesia's lower income population.
The government expects that when people with low incomes have improved land tenure security, they will have a better access to credit and land-related investments.
A 2002 study by the Jakarta-based SMERU Research Institute found that landowners were three times more likely to apply for bank loans after receiving land certificates.
The study, based on a survey of 1,002 households, found that the amount of landowners who took loans increased from 5.4 percent to 17.2 percent after receiving land certification.
The majority, 84.2 percent, of borrowers, according to the study, used the loans for business purposes, such as purchasing daily supplies and new inventories. The remainder, 15.8 percent, used the loans for personal expenses, such as bills and school fees.
"According to several staff members of BRI [state-owned lender Bank Rakyat Indonesia], these certificates gave them better legal security over the loans," the study stated.
The study also found that 23 percent of certified landowners made land-related investments, compared to 17.8 percent of non-certified landowners. These investments include home renovations and constructions of paddy-field irrigation systems.
Overall, the study found that 94.7 percent of respondents felt that land certification was well worth the administrative cost, which went as high as Rp 100,000 (US$7.11). Officially, the cost should not exceed Rp 11,500 in early 2000s.
Similarly, minister Sofyan acknowledged that illegal certification levies were still a rampant problem. Since 2017, the official administrative fee is limited to Rp 200,000 for Java and Rp 350,000 for outside Java, but media reports show that the figure has reached as high as Rp 2.5 million. "Just report these illegal levy collectors to the police," he said.