MoF provides RM77m special allocation for Felda settlers

By FARA AISYAH / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has allocated a RM77 million financial aid for the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers to fund their outstanding payments for 2018.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the government is taking the critical cashflow problem in Felda seriously.

“The issue has also become a concern for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who directed (the MoF) to give the financial aid.

“Accordingly, the MoF provides a special allocation of RM77 million to assist the Felda settlers in paying their outstanding payments in the current year,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The aid is expected to be utilised to pay death benefits involving heirs to 120 settlers amounting to RM1.2 million and outstanding payments of RM43 million to Felda Technoplant Sdn Bhd for the operational works for the settlers’ farm development.

The allocation is also expected to ease living expenses and to be used as deposit for the replanting programme, amounting to RM32.8 million that would benefit 38,000 Felda settlers.

Lim said the financial aid will be disbursed via the Economic Affairs Ministry as the ministry that regulates Felda.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali recently said Felda is currently facing very critical cashflow problems due to political interference during the previous government’s administration.

As such, the government has decided to present a “white paper” on Felda in Parliament in the upcoming session to expose the real situation faced by the organisation, and also the strategic recovery mechanism.

“The next step being taken to strengthen the cashflow position is through sale of non-strategic assets, such as offshore and domestic real estates.

“The immediate focus of Felda’s board of directors and management is to reverse Felda’s cashflow position through discussions with creditors by restructuring its loans, which have reached a total of RM8.03 billion,” Azmin said, responding to MP Ma’mun Sulaiman (Pakatan Harapan-Kalabakan) who asked the ministry to state the latest restructuring process of Felda.

He also said Felda’s board and its new management will implement statutory obligations for the settlers.

“The new government today assures that settlers’ subsidised loans and revenue advances will be paid on schedule.

“The revitalising of Felda is crucial for the wellbeing of the settlers and in line with the goal of setting it up under the Land Development Act 1956,” he added.

Azmin also said Felda transferred about 400,000ha of oil palm land to FGV Holdings Bhd for exploration and listing purpose in 2012.

The matter will be included in the white paper and the government will re-look into it.

“FGV management’s views will also be taken into our consideration,” the minister said, after Ma’mun claimed that only 9,000ha of oil palm land out of the 400,000ha were given to Felda settlers.