Govt allows oil palm, rubber industries to continue operations

Precautionary steps include minimising labour and their mobility, and for workers to return home immediately after work

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by BLOOMBERG

THE Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry has lifted the control order on oil palm and rubber industries to resume their operations on a restricted scale.

Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the Movement Control Order (MCO) will have a huge impact on the plantation and commodity sectors, especially oil palm and rubber smallholders.

“The ministry is aware of how important contributions from these two industries are to the supply chain, especially essentials like cooking oil and equipment such as gloves and catheters.

Hence, the ministry will be giving some leeway to the two sectors,” he said in a statement after the Cabinet meeting yesteday.

Mohd Khairuddin also added that the ministry will allow the harvesting of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) by companies and small-holders, the processing of FFB by oil palm factories and the processing of crude palm oil in refineries for the production of cooking oil for local markets.

“The leeway also allows rubber tapping activities — to supply raw materials for the manufacturing of medical equipment such as gloves and catheters — and activities in the timber sector to meet contracts,” he said.

On that note, Mohd Khairuddin also called on all parties involved to take precautionary measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“These include minimising labour and their mobility by avoiding physical contact (social distancing) and for workers to return home immediately after work,” he said.

He also urged everyone to take care of their hygiene by washing their hands with soap or sanitisers.

The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) welcomed the leeway and said it will adhere to all regulations and standard operation procedures (SOPs) as stipulated by the government.

In a statement yesterday, it said all Felda premises including headquarters, regional offices and design offices will not operate during the duration of the MCO.

The agency also said its plantation operations would continue after the Cabinet decided to grant an exemption to the sector and allow operations to continue immediately.

The conditional decision sets out the necessary measures and precautions to be taken by each of the parties involved.

“In light of these developments, we would like to inform that plantation operations can be continued by taking appropriate steps to meet the requirements set out to curb the spread of Covid-19, especially among Felda employees.”

According to Felda, the management has been informed that failure to comply with the SOP and its guidelines may result in the withdrawal of government-approved exemptions.