PUTRAJAYA: A total of 47,418 smallholders and rubber tappers have received the Rubber Price Fall Special Assistance since the aid was announced by the government on June 10, said Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He said they were among the 84,754 recipients who were eligible for the assistance out 190,583 people who applied to the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) as of last Tuesday.
“We try to speed up the assistance but there are several problems in terms of the conditions for eligibility like the applicant owning more than seven acres of land, overlapping applications by the land-owner and the tapper, as well as too many applications for the same piece of land.
“We are not cheating and refusing to provide the assistance promised as has been claimed by certain parties, but there are conditions which have to be met in order for the assistance to be approved, besides having the Rubber Smallholder Authority Permit Card (PAT-G) issued by the Malaysian Rubber Board, he told a press conference here yesterday.
He was commenting on a statement by PAS Agro-Based Industry and Environment Committee chairman Sanusi Md Nor as reported in newspapers last Sunday claiming that the government had failed to provide the special assistance one month after it was announced, proving the opposition right that it was political bribery made during the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections.
To ensure that the target groups get the assistance, Ismail Sabri said the deadline for application had been extended from July 31 to Aug 31.
He said Risda staff had also been asked to work overtime while all RISDA offices ordered to remain open during the weekends and public holidays to process the applications.
“We have also ordered Risda liaison and community development officers to go to the villages to provide information and help the applicants with their applications,” he said.
Ismail Sabri said Risda would also put up posters in focus areas such as mosques, surau, shops and gathering places in the villages to inform the people about the terms, conditions and procedure for the applications.
Commenting on family members who could not get the assistance as the land-owner had died before the land was transferred to them, he said their families need only appoint a family member as representative to go to the Risda office with the land deed to submit an application.
On June 10, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the special assistance amounting to RM194 million would be given to 388,111 people comprising 307,770 smallholders and 80,341 rubber tappers who do not own their own lands or worked on other people’s land. — Bernama