KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA) appeal for exemption to the recent amendment to the HRDF (Human Resources Development Fund) to include the plantation sector to contribute 1% towards the HRD levy. Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan on 26th Feb 2021, announced the amendment to the Expansion of the Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad Act 2001 (Act 612) Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad (Amendment of First schedule) Order 2021 to all industries to include the plantation sector.
“Foremost, the plantation sector conducts the bulk of its training for foreign workers with proper moduled in-house training courses like harvesting, field upkeep and others. These trainings are focused based on each company’s needs and the plantation industry has been operating effectively using such methodology. It is therefore most inappropriate for the government to impose the levy on the plantation sector for training of foreign workers and is viewed as further taxing the plantation sector. As such, SOPPOA oppose the amendment by the ministry to include the plantation sector and appeal for exemption of the plantation sector from the amendment,” stated a SOPPOA spokesperson.
In opposing to the inclusion of the plantation sector for the contribution of 1% levy, SOPPOA is also appealing to the Sarawak State Government to assist the plantation sector to support the stance. The plantation sector is one of the most heavily taxed sector (majority of which are federal taxes) and any further tax will only ruin the future development of the palm oil industry in Sarawak which is a key component for the development of the state and its people.
“We appeal to YB Datuk M Saravanan, Human Resource Minister, to consider exempting the amended Act for the plantation sector as the bulk of the employees in plantation sector are foreign employees which only required basic moduled in house training for job related activities which are ongoing. The plantation sector is still facing acute shortage of workers due to the pandemic and still experiencing heavy loss of revenue due to shortage of harvesters to harvest the crop. Plantations should be allowed to utilize whatever monetary resource left to normalize operations to continue to bring back the much needed revenues to the country through normalized production and export of quality palm oil products,” he added.