PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli has expressed concern over Felda’s current financial status and the federal agency’s ability to execute its core duties for the more than 100,000 settlers nationwide.
Specifically, he said most settlers are dependent on Felda to replant their 10 acres of land with new commodity plants, the majority now being oil palms.
“Felda has not opened any new settlement since 1990…The last settlers would have gone in by the late 1980s. All their trees would have matured.
“Right now, the biggest link between Felda and the settlers revolve around management of the 10 acres of land, on replanting and other aspects,” he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today.
“If there are any problems that cause disruption to replanting activities on behalf of the settlers, it would have a big impact on every settler because that is their source of income,” he added.
With no control over Felda’s replanting costs, Rafizi claimed that settlers who are now in their 50s and 60s risk entering a new debt cycle of over RM100,000 each following a replantation exercise.
Under the current system, he said each settler who are indebted to Felda would be paid a salary of RM1,500, in exchange for profits from their 10 acres of land.
Rafizi cited figures from Felda’s 2014 audited financial statement which showed its gross expenditure for the purpose of oil palm replanting to be at some RM2.5 billion.
This was in contrast with only RM87.1 million recorded as Felda’s income for the same year.
He said this in raising further questions over Felda’s mounting debt and its planned purchase of a 37 percent non-controlling stake in Indonesia’s PT Eagle High Plantations for US$505.4 million (RM2.26 billion).
Citing Felda’s 2014 audited financial statement, Rafizi claimed that Felda’s debts now amounted to RM6.1 billion, raising concerns over its ability to secure more loans.
“With your (Felda’s) current state of finances, most probably you struggle to carry out the only one thing that is relevant to your existence, which is to carry out the replanting on behalf of the settlers.
“That itself you struggle to do and now you have the heart to make a RM2.3 billion purchase for a plantation in Indonesia…,” he said.
Rafizi had yesterday questioned how Felda would make the RM2.26 billion purchase to acquire the stake in Eagle High Plantations when it only had RM291 million in cash at the end of 2014.
Source : Alyaa Alhadjri @ Malaysiakini