Opportunity and space should be given to Felda settlers to increase income, says association

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — The allocation of RM810 million to the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) community welfare fund, with RM250 million from it to be used to increase the income of 11,600 settlers was needed amidst commodity price instability, said the National Felda Settlers’ Children’s Association (Anak) chairman Datuk Mazlan Aliman.

He said the opportunities and space should be provided widely through their involvement in various agricultural and livestock farming activities.

“Financing in the form of grants and easy loans should be increased and accelerated without bureaucracy,” he said when contacted by Bernama here, today.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng when tabling the 2020 Budget yesterday, said the allocation for FELDA would also include RM300 million to settle the settler’s repayment of loan interests; water supply (RM100 million); housing development for the settlers’ new generation (RM70 million) as well as upgrading roads and basic infrastructure (RM90 million).

Meanwhile, for Felda Chini 3’s second generation, Norazura Mohd Ali, 42, hoped the allocation for FELDA water supply would put an end to the long-running water problem at Felda Gugusan Chini in Pekan, Pahang.

“I hope that priority would be given to Felda Gugusan Chini as we have had problems of no water supply or low water pressure which lasted for months,” he said.

While for Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Polytechnic lecturer, Mohd Zuhaimi Zolkifli, 36, who is a native of Felda Lepar Hilir Satu in Kuantan, the provisions indicate that the fate of the settlers and their family still get the attention of the government, although some said that their fate has been marginalised.

“I hope the allocation provided will be managed transparently and in the best manner so that the facilities to be enjoyed can truly be realised,” he said.

Meanwhile, an activist for the NGO Center for Aboriginal Concerns, Dr Colin Nicholas also hoped that the allocation would be channeled efficiently so that the Orang Asli community could be better assisted.

“Millions were spent through budget allocation over the years but 99 per cent of Orang Asli people are still in the low-income B40 group, so it’s not how much was allocated, it’s about how the government spends the budget for the Orang Asli,” he said.

Through the 2020 Budget, an additional RM57 million will be allocated to the Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) as well as an additional RM83 million for the economic development, education and infrastructure for the Orang Asli community. — Bernama

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