Felda settlers have voiced dissatisfaction with the move by FGV Holdings Bhd to raise the allowances for the chairman and board members, saying now is not the right time.
As FGV is a Felda-owned entity with an 80% stake, they say, the company should focus on recovery efforts and bringing in profits as the price of crude palm oil continues to strengthen.
FGV, in a filing to Bursa Malaysia on June 23, said that a majority of its shareholders had approved 13 resolutions tabled at the annual general meeting (AGM) earlier that day.
The proposals included a move to increase the allowance of FGV’s non-executive chairman from RM300,000 to RM480,000.
This would mean a raise in monthly allowance from RM25,000 to RM40,000.
Remuneration for FGV’s non-executive directors meanwhile was increased from RM120,000 to RM150,000, equivalent to a RM2,500 raise from RM10,000 per month to RM12,500.
The raise in allowances begins today and will continue until the next AGM.
Yesterday’s AGM also approved the provision of a company car of at least 2,000cc for the use of the non-executive chairman, along with an annual vehicle facility expenditure of RM180,000.
The non-executive chairman had previously received an allowance of RM15,000 a month to cover petrol, toll payments and maintenance costs.
According to FGV’s website, the current non-executive chairman is Dzulkifli Abd Wahab.
National Felda Settlers’ Children Association (Anak) adviser Mazlan Aliman said many settlers were against the decision.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said they felt that FGV and Felda should focus on the recovery plan laid out in the white paper tabled in April 2019.
“Carry out the recovery plan first,” he said. “There are still many things that need to be resolved.
“We as Felda residents see no justification for this. In fact, these raises are quite extreme.”
Mazlan said FGV should take into account matters such as the rising cost of living and the increase in price of food and raw goods before bringing proposals for increased allowances to the AGM.
“It is estimated that nearly 70% of the first generation of Felda settlers have died,” he said.
“Now the income earned has to be divided between their heirs and the next generation of settlers. As it is, this income is not large – imagine having to divide it.
“And in this situation, FGV suddenly announces an increase in the chairman’s allowance. It’s not justified.”
Negeri Sembilan Felda settlers chief Zainal Abidin Ahmad said FGV should cancel the decision to increase the allowances of its chairman and board members.
He also questioned if FGV would slash these allowances if the price of crude palm oil goes down again.
“It’s true that prices are rising and this is bringing in profits,” he said to MalaysiaNow.
“But when prices once again decline, will the chairman’s allowance go down as well?”
FGV recorded a surge in profit after tax and minority interests to RM1.17 billion for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2021 – an eight-fold increase from the RM146 million recorded the previous year.
Its annual revenue also increased 39% to a record high of RM19.57 billion from RM14.07 billion in 2020.