No ‘duit raya’ for Felda settlers this year, says Azmin

Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali at a breaking of fast event in Gombak yesterday. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The 112,635 Felda settlers nationwide will not receive any cash gifts in conjunction with the coming Hari Raya celebration due to the country’s financial situation, says Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali.

He said the government would instead give priority to providing Cost of Living and Advance on Produce incentives for the settlers before Hari Raya.

“I want to ensure that all this money is channelled before Raya,” he told reporters after a breaking of fast event with his constituents in Gombak Setia.

The Felda NGOs National Council earlier called on the government to give “duit raya” or assistance to Felda settlers in conjunction with Hari Raya this year, citing settlers’ unstable income due to fluctuating palm oil prices and the rising cost of living.

Azmin said the government does not want to make any promises as its main focus is to ensure settlers’ long term welfare and well-being.

He said the government through its White Paper on Felda is looking at sustainable and long-term solutions.

Putrajaya had agreed to allocate RM6.23 billion to Felda in grants, loans and government guarantees to ensure Felda’s sustainable future.

Azmin also said the government is working with the agriculture and agro-based industry ministry to begin a “cash crop model” initiative to help settlers not to rely solely on oil palm.

“This is the alternative crop. We do not want the settlers to be too dependent on oil palm because it takes a very long time to get returns.

“Now with the price of commodities in the market fluctuating all the time, we think it is better for us to introduce the cash crop model and to get the youth of Felda to embrace new technology,” he said.

Azmin said he hoped the first programme would be launched at the beginning of Hari Raya with the first pilot project either in Pahang or Johor.