KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has reportedly accused Putrajaya of “forcing” it to be poor due to it being the rice bowl of the country.

Sanusi was reported reiterating that the state faced huge losses as it has to keep its land as agricultural land rather than commercial lots.

“When the time comes to make comparisons, they say we are poor, poor because we are ordered to plant paddy. Land tax for paddy field, one hectare is RM15, land tax for industrial land, one hectare is RM1,000.

“That is what we have to forgo, when I say we are poor, people get angry, it is a coercion. We are forced to be poor but people fail to understand this,” he was quoted saying by Malay daily Berita Harian.

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Therefore, he said Kedah is seeking an annual compensation of RM200 million from the federal government following revenue loss for maintaining paddy land.

He said the requested compensation amount is considered reasonable since demand for the development of paddy land for residential, industrial and commercial purposes have increased annually.

“We are asking RM200 million annually, if we developed existing paddy land that have obtained approvals (more than 10,000 hectares) under the Local District Programme annually, we will get RM100 million a year for those lands.

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“Increased development demands for paddy land also increases land taxation,” he reportedly said.

“We also have investments coming, so how are we going to balance our losses with land demands for activities other than paddy, so we are asking RM100 million annually,” he added.

He said it is the state government’s hope that the federal government would collectively share the responsibility for ensuring national food security.

Earlier this month, Putrajaya said it has agreed in principle to proposals to convert agricultural land within the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) area for industrial and commercial development.

Sanusi had then in response said that the Kedah state government lost about RM100 million annually because of land under the Mada that could be developed for housing, commercial and industrial purposes.

He added that around 10,000 hectares of Mada land have been included under the district local plan for housing development, while 400 hectares were for industrial use and several hectares for commercial.

Sanusi said even though the land was still actively producing rice there was high demand for it to be developed for other purposes and that the state government lost more revenue retaining the area for rice planting and sought fiscal aid from the federal government over the loss of revenue.