10/10/2007 (Daily Express News),Kota Kinabalu - DAP Sabah called on the Government to abolish the oil palm cess for the benefit of planters.
Kuamut DAP chief, Jusing @ Geoffrey Sabran said in spite of being the biggest oil palm producing State in Malaysia, Sabah is the biggest loser with the highest poverty rate of 24.3 per cent.
He said the oil palm cess collected was about RM1.2 billion and of this amount, 80 per cent was used by the Federal Government to finance the Cooking Oil Stabilisation Scheme (COSS) and some other activities of welfare associations all over the country.
"We, as smallholders, suffer much because apart from paying income tax, we are also charged 7.5 per cent on our Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB) sales.
"On top of that, we are also charged another RM42 per metric tonne by the State Government. If the cess was not paid, a penalty of 10 times the amount or three years' imprisonment would be imposed," he said.
Surprisingly Felda, on the other hand, which owns and manages about 150,000 hectares of oil palm plantations, was exempted from paying the cess.
"This is totally unfair! Why tax the ordinary planters in Sabah for financing the whole country's cooking oil subsidy and welfare? In other words, the bulk of the money for the purpose come from Sabah," he said.
Jusing said the State BN leaders had said and done nothing on this issue showing they were neither capable nor interested to resolve the palm oil cess issue which affects the survival of thousands of planters all over the State.
DAP proposed the money collected from Sabah instead be used as subsidies or loans to help develop smallholders' idle land and not to subsidise cooking oil consumers in Malaysia.
"We, as small palm oil planters have our own problems. We are also fighting very hard for survival. The increased development cost and low commodity price has affected our profit.