PEKAN – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had much good news for the 32,238 smalllholders registered with the Rubber Industries Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA).
The best was that they will be receiving dividends totalling RM151.1 million.
Of the total, RM43.9 million will go to 16,080 participants of the authority’s New Clusters Development (RTBB) and RM107.2 million to 16,158 participants of its Commercial Replanting Scheme (TSK).
“I hope the awarding of these dividends will put us in a more comfortable position to celebrate the coming Aidilfitri,” he said when announcing RISDA’s dividends for 2015 at Dewan Seri Perdana, Kolej Automotif Antarabangsa (ICAM) here yesterday.
Also present were Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Pahang Rural Development, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif.
He said the government was committed to help increase the monthly income and standard of living of smallholders who were part of the B40 segment, having an average monthly income of about RM2,500.
He said the situation was compounded with the falling prices of rubber and palm oil in the world market due to the slowdown in world economic growth.
Consequently, the government also held close collaborations with rubber producing countries to increase exports and ensure that smallholders adopted good agricultural practices to increase productivity.
During the event, Najib also approved the Death Benefit Scheme for RISDA Smallholders (SKPBR) worth RM5.24 million for all rubber and oil palm smallholders registered with RISDA.
He said the scheme was set up to safeguard the welfare of smallholders and reduce their burden in the event of accidental death and illness.
The Prime Minister also announced an allocation of RM2 million as initial funding for Yayasan RISDA (RISDA Foundation).
He said the foundation would channel aid or facilities for education, sports and socio-welfare of the smallholders, their families and staff of RISDA and companies owned by the agency.
“We will increase the allocation from time to time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Najib said the government could address shortfall in revenues due to the drop in world oil prices through the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which was implemented on April 1 this year.
“This is among the reasons why the government introduced the GST, not to burden the people but for their long-term benefit. But some people choose not to see this but hurl criticisms instead,” he added.