KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah has called on state agriculture and food industry minister Yahya Hussin to explain how the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS) made a profit of over RM100 million in 2016.
In a speech read by his assistant minister Sairin Karno during the LIGS’ annual dinner last week, Yahya said the profit was an accomplishment for a state agency tasked as a facilitator to assist rubber tappers raise their incomes.
Warisan vice-president Junz Wong said in a statement today Yahya’s announcement suggested that LIGS had not been paying fair prices to rubber smallholders.
“I challenge Yahya and LIGS to enlighten the general public on how LIGS formulated the farm value for raw rubber materials such as unsmoked sheet and cup lump.
“How does LIGS determine the dry rubber content (DRC) of this raw rubber material and the pricing of each grade of rubber, such as rubber sheet grades 1 and 2 as well as coagulated rubber grades 1 and 2?
“In Sabah, rubber smallholders produce their rubber according to LIGS’ specifications and are paid a price set by LIGS.
“In Peninsular Malaysia, rubber smallholders sell their produce in the form of day-old cup lumps, in which the DRC is set at 50%.”
The Likas assemblyman said both calculations were based on the international market price for SMR 20 (Standard Malaysian Rubber Grade 20)
“This is why it is extremely important for LIGS to enlighten our rubber tappers as to how they determine the percentage of DRC for the raw rubber materials so that Sabah rubber tappers can determine whether or not LIGS’ prices are fair,” said Wong.
“As an example, what is the DRC percentage for rubber sheets less than 0.5 inch thick and air dried for 7 to 10 days as per LIGS specifications?
“How does LIGS determine the DRC content for materials of this specifications?”
Wong said the rubber smallholders were the unsung heroes of Sabah’s rubber industry, contributing nearly 90% of the total rubber produced in the state.
LIGS, as an agency under the Sabah government, must focus on its core duty to look after the interests of the rubber smallholders as well as the entire rubber industry development by empowering and facilitating the rubber tappers through programmes and funds from the government, stressed Wong.
“LIGS should focus on providing the rubber tappers the best price for their produce instead of making profits,” he said.
“LIGS needs to be transparent and accountable and come clean on how they formulate the price for rubber tappers.
“If this RM100 million profit did not come at the expense of Sabah rubber tappers, where did it come from?”