27/03/2008 (The Star Online), Kuala Lumpur - Local oil palm plantation owners with over 40ha of estates are expected to pay higher special cess this year to help subsidise the Government's cooking oil stabilisation scheme (COSS) introduced in May 2007.
Malaysian Estate Owners' Association (MEOA) president Boon Weng Siew said the plantation sector stood to pay about RM120mil in cess per month for COSS based on the current crude palm oil (CPO) price of RM3,500 per tonne. This was 20% higher than the RM100mil cess per month when CPO was trading at about RM2,750 last May.
From June 2007 to last month, the oil palm plantation sector had paid cess worth RM972mil to finance COSS through the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).
Boon told a media conference yesterday that MEOA was urging the Government to seriously consider abolishing the COSS, which is due for a revision in May.
“Should the Government consider it inexpedient to abolish it, then it should in all fairness finance the COSS from additional income tax collected from the better income plantation companies and individual growers are seeing from the high CPO price instead of continuing the cess levy on estate owners,” he said.
Apart from the COSS cess, MEOA's members, which are mostly public-listed plantation companies, were heavily taxed with other cess to finance the CPO price stabilisation fund and MPOB's research.
Boon said MEOA also supported the recent call by Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad to scrap the price controls on essential goods.
He opined that price control caused shortages of the controlled items when the open market was above the controlled price.
The price of Malaysia's subsidised cooking oil is controlled at RM2.50 per kg compared with RM5.80 per kg in Thailand and RM8 per kg in Singapore.
Boon said the Government should allow the price of palm-based cooking oil to float in tandem with the market.
“MEOA believes that the impact on inflation will be minimal as it is estimated that for an increase of RM3 per kg from (controlled price of) RM2.50 to RM5.50, the additional burden is about RM2 per capita per month,” he added.