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Speed up documentation of migrant workers: Planters

Daily Express, Malaysia, 21 September 2018 - The East Malaysia Planters' Association (Empa) has requested the State Government to speed up the mechanism of documentation of all current migrant workers in the plantation industry.

Its Chairman Masri Pudin said the orderly documentation of migrant workers is one of the many conditions of MSPO certification or of any other certification.

"The oil palm plantation industry has been weathering key unceasing issues on labour supply and legalisation. Now it also has the added responsibility of supporting the national objective getting the oil palm operation MSPO certified," he said in a statement after a meeting with State Secretary Datuk Hashim Paijan, recently.

He said Empa also registered its objection to the proposed revision of levy from the current RM590 to RM1,500 per plantation worker, effective Jan 1, 2019.

The proposed increase of levy, he said, will just add on to the recent announcement to increase the minimum wage to RM1,050 that will take effect on the same date.

"When CPO prices are low, and with most plantations undertaking replanting of unproductive oil palms as well as the extra resources needed to prepare for MSPO certification, this added expense of wages and levy might be the proverbial final straw that broke the camel's back.

"Smallholders and small estates will be the most burdened group when price is low and cost goes up," he said. Masri further stressed on the unequal challenge faced by small estate owners (40.47ha-500ha) that have to be certified under MSPO 2530-3 Part 3 compared to those big palm oil corporations, including listed companies.

He said although Empa supports MSPO certification and is currently organising training courses for its members who are mostly small estate owners, the feedback from these members are that the standards demanded under MSPO 2530-3 Part 3 are far too demanding of their small and limited resources and capabilities.

Ironically, the deadline for small estates is June 30, 2019, while the independent smallholders' group with 40.47ha and below are given up to Dec 30, 2019 to comply, he added.

He noted that palm oil is the backbone of the State's economy and one of the State's main tax revenue bases. Sabah is the largest producer of palm oil in Malaysia at 5.7 million metric tonnes annually or almost 30 per cent of the country's annual production.

Empa, the 129-year-old organisation, urged the State Government to set up a steering committee to specifically look after the interest and coordinate all its oil palm industry from upstream to downstream and related matters. It proposes that experts and professionals from private sectors, government linked companies (GLCs) and related state agencies should be represented in this committee.

Source: http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=127345

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