President Hollande’s Proposed Tax Spells Disaster for Small Farmers
Kuala Lumpur (17 May 2016) – The French Government continues to support a damaging differential tax on palm oil, despite the tax being rejected by the French Senate’s plenary vote. The tax is a major risk for 300,000 small farmers in Malaysia for whom oil palm cultivation is an essential lifeline.
Dato‘ Haji Aliasak Haji Ambia, President of the National Association of Smallholders Malaysia (NASH) said:
“President Hollande’s palm oil tax is nothing less than an arrow aimed at the hearts of small farmers around the world. In Malaysia, today, more than one million people would be affected by this damaging new tax.
“The French Senate have shown compassion and understanding of the needs of small framers in rural communities, and their families. The French Government, and President Hollande, need to show the same compassion. This tax will hurt millions of small farmers and local communities in Malaysia: on behalf of 300,000 small farmers we urge the French Government to change course and abandon this tax”
Dato’ Aliasak also questioned why palm oil did not get a fair ride in France, despite the many claims that French organisations and Government are supportive of small farmers and economic development.
Dao’ Aliasak continued:
“There are many groups, NGOs, roundtables, who claim to support palm oil, but small farmers do not see this support. Instead, these groups are supporting a differential tax that would hit the life chances of small farmers across Malaysia. A punitive tax is not beneficial, and it is certainly not ‘sustainable’.
“Even when the palm oil tax is discussed and voted, we do not hear anything. Only silence in France.”
The social, economic and environmental benefits of palm oil have been recognized across the developing world, with Malaysia as a world-recognized model for smallholder development. 40 per cent of Malaysia’s oil palm is owned or managed by small farmers. Palm oil is one of the most successful poverty alleviation tools in Malaysia, helping to reduce the country’s poverty rate from 50 per cent after independence, to less than 5 per cent today.