KUALA LUMPUR (May 22): The Government for now does not intend to give “duit raya” to the 112,635 Felda settlers throughout the country because the country’s financial situation does not permit so, said Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
He said instead, the government is giving priority to providing Cost of Living and Advance on Produce incentives for the settlers before this Aidilfitri.
"I want to ensure that all this money is chanelled before Raya," he told reporters after the Iftar Perdana Council and the presentation of Aidilfitri's contribution to recipients in the Gombak Setia constituency here today.
Prior to this, the Felda NGOs National Council (MPNF) had called on the government to give “duit raya” or assistance in conjunction with the Hari Raya this year to Felda settlers following unstable settlers' income at current due to fluctuating palm oil commodity prices and the rising cost of living.
Mohamed Azmin said the Government does not want to make any promises as its main focus is to ensure their long term welfare and well-being is looked after.
"We sorted one out recently via a White Paper costing RM6.23 billion and that should be our long-term goal as we are looking at sustainable and long term solutions," he said.
Prior to this, the Government had agreed to allocate RM6.23 billion to Felda in stages in grants, loans and Government guarantees according to the needs to ensure Felda’s sustainable future.
Mohamed Azmin also informed that the Government is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry to initiate a "cash crop model" initiative to help settlers not to rely solely on oil palm.
“This is the alternative crop, because we do not want the settlers to be too dependent on oil palm, because it takes a very long time to get back returns, and now with the price of commodities in the market fluctuating all the time, we thought it is better for us to introduce the cash crop model and to get the youth of Felda to embrace new technology,” he said.
Mohamed Azmin said he hoped the first programme would be launched at the beginning of the Hari Raya with the first pilot project either in Pahang or Johor.