Right time to increase scrap rubber floor price, says Sabah rep

KOTA KINABALU: The floor price of scrap rubber has to be reviewed in view of the increased cost of items such as fertilisers and pesticides, says a Sabah leader.

Kuamut assemblyman Datuk Masiung Banah (pic) said the floor price had never been reviewed since 2016, and now, with the increasing cost of living, was the time to study it again.

He said the price per kg of scrap rubber was RM2.50, which is equivalent to a kilogramme of salt.

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“This is discrimination against small-time rubber planters. Everything else has become more expensive and even the prices of chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides have gone up by 100%,” he said in a statement Friday (Sept 23).

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who is also state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, had said recently that the floor price should be reviewed to help increase smallholders’ income.

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Masiung said the floor price should be revised to RM3.50 per kg as the current price is the lowest in 20 years.

“Many rubber tappers have to switch to other forms of commodities that pay better, because they can’t afford to sustain their rubber tree plantations while having to deal with the increasing cost of living,” he added.

He also called on the government to extend the Bantuan Musim Tengkujuh or rainy season aid in the soon-to-be-tabled Budget 2023.

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Masiung said with rubber being the sixth most exported commodity in the country, there is more reason for the government to take heed of the issues surrounding planters.

The Sabah Housing and Town Development Board chairman said the production of rubber and its export volume would also be affected if this problem persisted and forced planters to turn to other commodities for survival.

Masiung called on the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) and the Sabah Rubber Industry Board to take proactive and urgent steps to address this matter as well.