Sawit should have made RM350m
Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh (pic) said the State Government and its leaders should not be overjoyed with the announcement that Sawit Kinabalu, which is 100 per cent State-owned, is making RM180 million since it is only 50 per cent of the average profitability of the oil palm plantation and industries in Sabah.
In a statement, Tuesday, he said it is easy for the State Government to compare figures between Sawit Kinabalu and other Sabah-based companies in the same industry such as Teck Guan.
Harris noted what Sawit Kinabalu Group Managing Director Datuk Othman Walat had stated, i.e. that Sawit made a profit of RM180 million for the year 2017 is great. "RM180 million is a lot of money.
"Othman also stated that the profit is out of the RM1.4 billion turnover; the figure of RM1.4 billion turnover is also great.
"However, based on the normal profitability of oil palm plantations and oil palm industry the Sawit Kinabalu profit is below average. A profit of RM180 million out of a turnover of RM1.4 billion is just 12 per cent.
"Sawit Kinabalu has an area of 70,000 hectares that is fully planted with oil palm; it also has a large number of oil palm mills. The normal profitability of oil palm plantation and industries in Sabah is 40-50 percent on turnover, and RM4,500 to RM5,000 per hectare per year.
"Therefore, a well-established firm like Sawit Kinabalu should have made a profit of RM350 million instead of RM180 million," he said.
"The State Government should look into the management of Sawit Kinabalu and report any wrongdoings to the Federal Government authorities.
"Now is the time for the Federal Government under Pakatan Harapan to start bucking up under-performance and cleaning up wrong doings of any of the Federal or State government companies, including government-linked companies," he said.
He said over the last few years, the Prime Minister of the previous government (Datuk Seri Najib) had been trying to impress Sabahans with announcements of huge figures of development budgets that amounted to almost RM20 billion.
"Based on these figures Sabah definitely had the largest development budget in the whole country as was claimed.
"Based on what went on the ground, however, less than 20 per cent was spent on projects that were supposed to benefit the people. The rest of the money were gone with the wind," he said.
He said there is no point in having billions announced when most of the money just disappeared into the pockets of thieves in the guise of politicians.
"For example the RM10 billion allocated to the Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah has hardly produced any progress and many contractors have not been paid.
"The RM9 billion gas project from Kimanis to Tawau, and the RM6 billion Tanjung Aru Project have yet to commence (since put on hold). The cost of the Convention Centre had escalated from RM500 million to more than RM1 billion, while the 28-storey State Secretariat Building was built at a cost of nearly RM1 billion and the new High Court Building at RM450 million," he said.
He said if there have been proper and transparent tender process, the cost of these projects would have been much lower, in some cases, by as much as 50 per cent.
"If they had been honestly managed, the savings from these projects could do so much to improve the lot of the less fortunate Sabahans," he said.
He said other than costing double the price the projects mentioned are in the wrong places.
For example the two landmark buildings, i.e. the State Secretariat and the Convention Centre should have been built around the Likas Bay area.
"A very important issue is that Sabahans tend to take things easy and take things for granted.
They should be asking questions and making those whom they have chosen to be their representatives more accountable. There should be zero tolerance on corruption and cheating, especially on the part of those in positions of authority," he said.