KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Sime Darby Plantation Bhd is continuing its engagement with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and expects to submit the report by Impactt Ltd in the first quarter this year.

“Following that, the US CBP will review the report and the company will continue its engagement during the process with the intention of lifting the withhold release order (WRO),” its chief financial officer Renaka Ramachandran said during the company’s briefing on its fourth-quarter financial performance today.

Sime Darby Plantation in March last year appointed Impactt Ltd as a third-party assessor to its newly established Expert Stakeholder Human Rights Assessment Commission.

Impactt is an ethical trade consultancy with specific expertise in detecting and remediating forced labour issues in company supply chains in line with the International Labour Organisation’s 11 indicators of forced labour.

The plantation company today announced its results for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2021 (FY2021), which saw net profit jump 90 per cent to RM2.26 billion from a year ago, on higher crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel prices.

Better oil extraction rates, which compensated for the lower fresh fruit bunch (FFB) production, also contributed to the growth in earnings.

Revenue surged to RM18.69 billion versus RM13.08 billion previously while basic earnings per share stood at 32.60 sen against 17.20 sen before.

The company has approved a final dividend of 12.38 sen per share for FY2021.

Commenting on the CPO price outlook for this year, Sime Darby Oils Sdn Bhd managing director Mohd Haris Mohd Arshad said the commodity’s price was expected to range between RM5,000 and RM5,500 per tonne in the first half of 2022 (1H 2022) before declining to RM3,000-RM3,500 per tonne as production recovers and labour shortage problem solved.

Demand, he said, would continue to come from major consuming countries including China and India, albeit at a slower pace, due to the prevailing higher prices in 1H 2022.

Sime Darby Plantation also did not foresee any improvement in production this year, according to Mohd Haris.

“We are probably going to see production remaining at the same level as in 2021, if not lower,” he said.

Data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board revealed that the CPO production in 2021 fell 5.3 per cent to 18.12 million tonnes versus 19.14 million tonnes in 2020.

Asked how long the situation will persist, he said it would depend on the labour issue and the weather.

The price of fertilisers has also gone up and this has impacted the output, he explained.

On the labour crunch faced by the company as well as the industry, Mohd Haris said the progress would only be seen at least in the next four months.

The industry is currently facing a shortage of 70,000 workers as borders were closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

At the close of trading today, Sime Darby Plantation shares fell 0.20 per cent to RM4.90 with 16.50 million shares changing hands. — Bernama