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Budget a slap in the face for native farmers - Petanah

By Raymond Tombung
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Bumiputera Farmers and Rearers Association (Petanah) feels that the 2012 just presented by the Prime Minister is a huge slap in the face of native farmers in Sabah and Sarawak .
Its President, En. Gaibin Ransoi, in a statement here said he was shocked that, with all the many packages offered to Malaysians, the Prime Minister totally forgot the poverty-ridden farmers in the Borneo states. “It’s the same case year after year with the national budget,” Gaibin said. “There are incentives, gifts and additional benefits given to public servants and those already earning good salaries, but those who have no salaries and struggling in poverty like the farmers are forgotten and neglected.”
“At least the fishermen were promised the Special Housing Fund for fishermen to build and refurbish houses. But for the native farmers it is another slap in the face because while all those around them get wage increases, financial reliefs and assistances, they continue to slide down economically,” he added. “This is because while their farm productions remain the same, they have to face higher and higher living and working costs such as for groceries, transport and schooling expenses for their children, as well as for farming equipments, fertilizers and weedicides.”
He said that the government keeps forgetting that news about bonuses, increases in salaries, and reduction of taxes are all heartbreaks for the poor native farmers who cannot enjoy all these. “Why can’t the government have any feeling for the native farmers who form the poorest of the population but who contribute hugely to the nation in terms of food production?” Gaibin asked. “For a long time now the fishermen have been given a monthly allowance of RM200, free boats, engines, nets and petrol discounts. But there is almost nothing for the poor farmers in the hills. Petanah suggests that all farmers be given RM300 per month – RM100 more than the fishermen because farmers have to toil the land for a long time to produce food and to compensate for their not receiving boats, engines and petrol like the fishermen.”
He pointed out that most farmers in Sabah are living way below the poverty line and many are hardly able to support themselves with almost no cash in the house. “Many live in decrepit houses without basic amenities and their children are hardly clothed,” he said. “And the worst thing is that many of them are being chased out of their NCR lands because their lands have been given to big companies. And sadly, some politicians who got voted into office by the poor farmers are siding with these companies!”
He suggested that the government come up with a comprehensive and plan to help the native villagers improve their economic standing by offering them more farming and stockbreeding incentives.

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