The Malaysian Finance Ministry, after being alerted by the Sabah Government and the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS), has announced a welfare aid totaling RM42 million for rubber smallholders in Sabah following the monsoon season. The sum will be distributed by the Chief Minister of Sabah to some 70,000 rubber smallholders who will receive RM600 each.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has said that: “The federal government is concerned about the smallholders who are now affected by low rubber prices.
The federal government in Putrajaya had previously allocated R200/month from November 2018 to January 2019 for rubber smallholders nationwide through the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA) – as much as RM165 million was allocated for about 275,000 rubber farmers who possessed land 2.5ha and below. This includes some 6,000 smallholders registered with RISDA in Sabah. LIGS had appealed for rubber farmers who managed plots of less than 6ha to be eligible for the aid.
The additional aid for rubber smallholders comes amidst the ministry’s announcement of 49 development projects to improve the economic status of Sabah’s Sandakan, which will see a parliamentary by-election on May 11, 2019. The projects and programmes are worth some RM2.28 billion, inclusive of projects in the oil palm-based industry and expansion of the Sandakan airport.