Loan Write-off Helps Sabah Felda Settlers Facing COVID-19 Challenges

LAHAD DATU: Felda settlers in Sabah described the government’s recent decision to write off part of their loans as a timely move that will help them face a challenging economic situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Felda Sahabat settler, Salmah Juat, said the efforts by the government and Felda management would lessen their burdens, and be a good opportunity for settlers to rearrange and strengthen their finances.

“We are facing the COVID-19 pandemic that affects our source of income, and with this announcement we feel appreciated and our welfare protected.

“The move will benefit me as I expect my loan will be reduced by half,” she told Bernama.

On July 7, prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had agreed with Felda’s suggestion to write off part of Felda setters’ loans totalling RM8.3 billion, subject to conditions.

Head of Felda Sahabat 4 and 5 settlers, Amit Inyok, said that his fellow settlers have looked forward to the write-off, especially with the current COVID-19 pandemic that has badly affected their incomes.

“The initiative is a timely move to help settlers get by, and throughout the period we’ve been with Felda, since 1998, settlers have had the option of choosing from quite a few types of assistance,” he said.

He added that the settlers’ loan adjustment would create a collective spirit between Felda and the settlers, towards sustainable plantation management. 

Meanwhile, Felda Sahabat 3 manager Damianus Gajong said Felda had tried its best to ensure settlers received the necessary assistance to face COVID-19, and since the pandemic, three phases of food basket assistance had been channelled to 1,647 settlers in Sabah.

In addition, he said Felda has also channelled one-off cash aid of RM600 to settlers affected by the 43-day closure of plantation operations.

“Felda will continue to ensure the welfare of all settlers in Sabah, including vaccination…as of now, 32 per cent of settlers have been vaccinated,” he said.