KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 ― Putrajaya is confident of increasing palm oil export earnings in 2020 to RM65 billion to RM70 billion when compared to the export earnings last year which stood at RM63.731 billion.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali told the Dewan Rakyat during Question Time that his confidence stems from the fact that there are increased export sales in the first half of 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.
“Based on the Department of Statistics, palm oil and palm oil product export earnings from January to April 2020 already stood at RM21.3 billion when compared to the RM20.8 billion in the same period in 2019 ― an increase of RM500 million.
“Early data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council shows that for the period of January to June 2020, we have exported RM21.165 billion worth of palm oil compared to RM20.906 billion for the same period in 2019.
“This is an increase of RM259 million,” said Mohd Khairuddin in his reply to Seputeh (PH) MP Teresa Kok.
The total earnings for palm oil and palm oil products for the first half of 2020 stood at RM32.471 billion when compared to RM31.915 billion in 2019, which is an increase of RM560 million.
The palm oil and its products are mainly exported to the Middle East and India.
In her supplementary question, Kok blasted the government for trying to engage locals to work in palm oil plantations instead of hiring foreign workers, saying that the locals are not interested in such jobs unless they receive managerial or supervisory positions.
The DAP lawmaker quoted palm oil associations predictions that they will make losses of around RM12 billion a year and production is expected to drop by 25 per cent this year.
However, she was soundly trounced by the minister who said that after the movement control order (MCO) and the current economic situation it is time to engage Malaysians to work in plantations and give the locals jobs and income.
“It is subjective to say they are not interested to work in the plantations. We should campaign for them to work there. I am an optimist; we should move for this.
“If Seputeh, as a former minister, has such negative thoughts against Malaysians, no wonder the palm oil industry cannot move forward,” said Mohd Khairuddin.
He added that the government has no plans of getting rid of the current foreign workers in the palm oil plantations but only to increase local presence.