Felda settlers deny being heavily in debt

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PUTRAJAYA: Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers have denied allegations that they are heavily in debt.

The community’s head Samsudin Othman said the debts incurred by the settlers included only subsistence loans of between RM1,000 to RM1,500 which was to assist those carrying out oil palm plantation projects.

“The government is kind enough to advance loans for living costs. If the government does not loan the money, the settlers have to wait for three years to reap the results. This is the amount that has led to the settlers’ debts reaching RM80,000.

“These are debts created by the settlers themselves. Felda does not encourage the policy of being in debt, instead it’s better still if they can make do without taking a cost of living loan,” he said.

In fact, Felda settlers have expressed their gratitude and thanks to Prime Minister Najib Razak for announcing the granting of special incentives today, to ensure the welfare and prosperity of the community.

Samsudin said the short-, medium- and long term incentives were welcome news for all 112,635 settlers in the 317 Felda settlements across the country that will help ease their burden.

“We Felda settlers are grateful and thankful to the prime minister,” he told reporters after attending the national level Felda Settlers Day 2017 celebration at Dataran Putrajaya, here today.

At the event, Najib announced six incentives for Felda settlers in the form of debt disposal, incentive payment, the setting up of a special fund and grant, as well as a housing incentive, among others.

Mohammad Zainal Mohd Yusof, 61, from Felda Palong, Negeri Sembilan said it portrayed the commitment and sincerity of the prime minister.

“This is the first time we got six incentives all at once, and I’m very grateful for the announcement today. We are always loyal to the government because it is always thinking of our welfare.

“I am also delighted to celebrate the Prime Minister’s birthday here,” said the retired army man, adding that Felda always gave good returns to the settlers.

Meanwhile, Asmawi Ani, or more popularly known as Mawi, from Felda Taib Andak, Kulai, Johor, said the government had always given top priority to the well-being of Felda settlers by providing all forms of incentives and facilities since 1956.

“See for yourself the positive improvements today, we need to be grateful for what we already have and should preserve it carefully.

“The young generation especially, should not listen to negative stories about Felda and be easily influenced. Check it out first. That’s the most important thing.

Actor Abdul Jalil Hamid, a native of Felda Cahaya Baru, Masai, Johor, sees the granting of the incentives as a sign of concern and care by the government under the leadership of Najib, who was always striving to create a better quality of life for the people and a prosperous nation.

“This is what is special about the government in helping Felda settlers. There are times, the settlers lives are dependent on palm oil commodities, the price of which at times goes up and at times falls.

“I am also a native of Felda and spent years of my life there. There are people who are not even able to build their own houses. This is a great reward from the government that we have to be grateful for,” he said.