PKR to Noh Omar: Explain the missing RM110m farmers’ incentives

(The Malaysian Insider) – PKR Selangor demanded today Datuk Seri Noh Omar clarify the RM110 million worth of incentives promised to paddy farmers which is still owing.

“We demand Noh Omar answer that. How did the money that was supposed to be awarded to the farmers, those who had succeeded in increasing their rice production, were not given the incentives that was promised.

“This is one of the failures of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry and Noh Omar’s as well as Umno Selangor’s failure in managing the funds that was supposed to go to the farmers,” Shuhaimi Shafiei, PKR Selangor information chief told reporters here at the PKR headquarters.

He said the minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, who is also the Umno Selangor deputy chairman has failed to prove that the biggest party in the ruling coalition is sincere in taking back Selangor from the hands of the Opposition.

The Auditor-General’s report yesterday showed the ministry has yet to pay RM110.67 million it owed to more than 70,000 farmers under a scheme to encourage a higher rice production.

Citing Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas), Malaysia’s rice industry regulator, the report said the farmers were eligible to receive RM341.29 million between January 2007 and January 2010. However, Bernas only managed to pay incentives worth RM230.62 million as at end 2010, citing lack of funds.

This resulted in 73,291 farmers not receiving incentives totalling RM110.67 million.

Bernas currently controls about 24 per cent of the paddy market and 45 per cent of the local rice demand.