• Malay Mail

Defend national palm oil, increase budget allocation, urge Pakatan MPs

By Patha Subramaniam (18 November 2014) KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 - Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers urged Putrajaya not to slash the allocation for the promotion of palm oil as the world’s most common vegetable oil is one of the nation’s “biggest income”. Kelana Jaya PKR MP Wong Chen urged the government to hike the allocation of RM14.5 million for the development and promotion and the RM10 million to defeat anti-palm oil campaigns under Budget 2015 to a minimum of one per cent to reflect the industry’s RM80 billion market share. The crude-palm oil prices have been sliding following environmental concerns and growing usage of other traditional vegetable oils like soybean oil and groundnut oil.

According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MTOC) palm oil export have dropped by 530,000 metric tonne since January this year. Wong pointed out that while the concerns against the promotion of palm oil are valid, more than 500,000 local employees will be affected if the prices continue to drop. “The current allocation is only about 0.03 per cent of the total export value.

“We are disappointed that the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry has decided to slash its 2015 budget for defending and promoting palm oil by 40 per cent at this juncture,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

Under the previous budget, Putrajaya spent a total of RM41 million to promote and defend palm oil.

“We urge the ministry to increase its spending to a more reasonable amount of RM200 million a year to turnaround and safeguard the future of this very important industry,” said Wong.

Wong reminded that Malaysia’s second biggest income was derived from palm oil exports, and the industry was a renewable source of income unlike oil and gas.

Malaysia and neighbouring Indonesia are the world’s two biggest producers of palm oil, together accounting for 85 per cent of the market, which is used in a range of consumer products from toothpaste to biscuits.

“The total tax revenue paid by palm oil companies is around RM10 billion to RM15 billion a year.

“Spending a mere RM24.5 million to help the industry is blatantly unfair to oil palm companies,” said Wong.