Budget 2023: Govt provides RM50mil in matching grants to encourage automation in plantation sector

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will provide RM50 million in matching grants to promote automation in the plantation sector through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), which can employ skilled local workers.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Sime Darby Plantation Bhd’s experience proved that local workers were ready to work in oil palm plantations with a minimum wage of RM3,000 and a more attractive work environment aided by mechanisation and automation adoption.

"Their target is to employ 100 per cent local workers by the end of 2027,” he said at the tabling of Budget 2023 at the Dewan Rakyat today.

He said the oil palm sector suffered a RM20 billion loss in revenue due to policies that restricted the hiring of workers, especially foreign workers.

Anwar said the issue is almost resolved with the recent legalising policy without involving agents who rake in high profits.

"The majority of high-risk sectors still rely on foreign workers because these sectors offer low wages and unguaranteed workers’ welfare,” he said.

He added that the government would also provide a total of RM80 million to improve the sustainability of the palm oil industry and intensify the anti-palm oil counter-campaign. - Bernama

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