Date
20 January 2020
Forest and land fires, as well as the resulting haze, caused significant economic damage to Indonesia, the World Bank says. Photo: Reuters
Forest and land fires, as well as the resulting haze, caused significant economic damage to Indonesia, the World Bank says. Photo: Reuters

Indonesia forest fires economic toll at least US$5.2 bln: WBank

The total damage and economic loss from forest fires in Indonesia this year amounted to at least US$5.2 billion, equal to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

The estimate was based on the bank’s assessment in eight affected provinces from June to October 2019, Reuters reports.

“The forest and land fires, as well as the resulting haze, led to significant negative economic impacts, estimated at $157 million in direct damage to assets and $5.0 billion in losses from affected economic activities,” the World Bank was quoted as saying in a report released on Wednesday.

The World Bank estimated a 0.09 and 0.05 percentage points reduction in Indonesia’s economic growth in 2019 and 2020, respectively, due to the fires.

The bank’s growth forecast for Indonesia is 5 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020.

The blazes were “manmade and have become a chronic problem annually since 1997” because fire is considered the cheapest method to prepare land for cultivation, the World Bank said.

More than 942,000 hectares of forests and lands were burned in Indonesia this year, the biggest since devastating fires in 2015 when the nation saw 2.6 million hectares burned, according to official figures.

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