KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) had RM8.025 billion in debts and almost no cash reserves when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government took over, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali revealed today.
He said in a statement that this has had a huge impact on Felda’s cash flow and affected the agency’s payments for its settlers as well as other commitments.
“Felda’s management is doing its best to ensure that its commitments are met. But in view of the high and continuous commitment, Felda has recently had difficulties in fulfilling them,” he admitted.
However, Azmin said his ministry has taken note of the hardship faced by the settlers after the price of palm oil and rubber plummeted, and thus, the prime minister has approved a special allocation of RM77 million to aid the agency.
“With the mess left by the previous administration, the ministry and Felda’s new management have been working hard to ensure the welfare of settlers and their families are taken care of,” he said.
He said the special allocation will be used to cover living expenses and as down payment for harvest, arrears in payment for replanting management and ‘khairat kematian’ or death benefits for the next-of-kin of 120 settlers.
The fund transfers are expected to be completed by the end of the month, said Azmin
“It is hoped that the allocations will be able to lighten the financial burden faced by settlers especially in their preparations for the new schooling year,” the Gombak MP said, adding that his ministry and Felda were in the process of implementing a restoration plan to strengthen Felda’s financial position.
Over 38,000 settlers and their next-of-kin are expected to benefit from the allocation.
The agency has been hit with a series of scandals and allegations of financial mismanagement which saw a change to its chairman, top management officials and board members earlier this year.
The government subsequently appointed former banker Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor as Felda chairman to turn around the agency within the next two years.
Felda started selling some of its assets to plug the RM8 billion hole in September.