Indonesia’s largest palm oil company, Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), has said that, while focused on responsible palm oil production, it remains committed to complying with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Principles and Criteria as well as the laws and regulations of the country.
The organisation made the submission in a statement on Monday, August 20, 2018, in an apparent reaction to claims by the the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) stating, among others, that complaints were filed against GAR by a group of Indonesian, Liberian and International NGOs.
The GAR, which is said to be part of the huge Sinar Mas (Golden Rays) conglomerate run by the Widjaja family with interests ranging from palm oil and pulpwood to real estate and banking, was accused by the NGOs of failing to comply with RSPO’s standards.
Both GAR and its subsidiary in Liberia – Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) – reportedly angered NGOs when they withdrew GVL’s membership of the RSPO, and allegedly dodging a demand from RSPO that it should halt development of its palm oil mill on contested lands.
By the GAR has expressed “extreme” disappointment with the FPP claim that it had filed a new complaint against it. According to GAR, FPP chose not to share the details of its grievance with it (GAR) before releasing the “complaint.” GAR stated that, to date, it has received no official notification or communication from FPP regarding the new “complaint”.
GAR added: “This has given GAR no opportunity to understand or clarify any of the matters brought up by FPP and is hampering proper communications between the parties as well as a violation of the spirit of the RSPO process.
“From what we know of the FPP grievance, we note that it is referring and repeating various matters which have been previously resolved and addressed. Furthermore, it is still based on an erroneous understanding about our relationship with GVL, the nature of which we have recently clarified again with the RSPO Secretariat.
“We have updated these matters with FPP and RSPO through our regular reports to RSPO which are publicly accessible here: https://rspo.org/members/complaints/status-ofcomplaints/view/75. As for FPP’s claim concerning GAR and shadow companies, we absolutely refute this and affirm there is no basis for such allegations.
“In accordance with the GAR Social and Environmental Policy, we remain committed to complying with the RSPO Principles and Criteria and the laws and regulations of Indonesia.”
GAR is said to be one of the leading palm oil plantation companies with a total planted area of 500,481 hectares (including plasma smallholders) as at June 30, 2018, located in Indonesia. It has integrated operations focused on the production of palm-based edible oil and fat.
In Indonesia, its primary activities include cultivating and harvesting of oil palm trees; processing of fresh fruit bunch into crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel; refining CPO into value-added products such as cooking oil, margarine, shortening, biodiesel and oleo-chemicals; as well as merchandising palm products throughout the world.
Founded in 1996, GAR was listed on the Singapore Exchange in 1999 and has a market capitalisation of $2.8 billion as at June 30, 2018.