Let us resume our operations, urge palm oil groups
Published on: Wednesday, April 01, 2020
By: Bernama
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File photo from Bernama.
Kota Kinabalu: Palm oil industry players are appealing to the State Government to reconsider its decision to close estate and mill operations and allow the State’s smallholders to resume essential and critical operations during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) and Malaysian Estate Owners’ Association (MEOA) said the operations included harvesting, crop evacuation as well as milling.

“We strongly believe that we can better contain the spread by continuing operations rather than curbing them,” they said in a joint statement Tuesday.

The associations said the closure would result in idle workers being confined to their home for long hours without practising social distancing and living in close proximity that could lead to contact with the virus.

“It is difficult and impossible to stop them from leaving and the possibility of them wandering around, thus posing a security and crime threat as well as defeating the objective of the MCO. Imagine 50,000 workers doing so,” they said.

MPOA and MEOA were responding to the State Government’s announcement on Monday on the closure of estate and mill operations at three more districts, which brought the total area that would be closed until April 14 to about 65 per cent of the total 1.2 million-hectare planted area.

The associations said the closure involved about 100,000 workers and affected 75 per cent of the production in Sabah, which had been the country’s biggest palm oil-producing State.

They also cited the risk of losing the estate and mill workers who might leave the estate in search for jobs elsewhere or return to their home country for good, as not all companies could afford to pay without work being done.

“The above only highlight the operational nightmare notwithstanding the potential revenue loss of about RM860 million for a month’s closure in Sabah.

“The loss in the 7.5 per cent sales tax revenue to the Government amounting to about RM57 million could actually be used to support the fight to contain Covid-19 that benefits the people,” the associations added.


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