By WINNIE YEOH firstname.lastname@example.org
NIBONG TEBAL: The Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry is negotiating for a higher compensation payout from the developer of the Second Penang Bridge for fishermen affected by the project.
Its deputy minister Chua Tee Yong said the ministry together with other agencies had turned down an initial proposed compensation of RM3.7mil for more than 600 fishermen affected by construction of the bridge.
“We are proposing a higher amount but I cannot announce it yet as the discussion is not finalised. We hope to resolve it by year-end.
“However, we cannot guarantee that the amount will appease all fishermen,” he said after holding a dialogue with them at the Tean Hor Seah Boh Temple in Changkat here.
He said another meeting would be held on Thursday with the developer to discuss the quantum.
He also suggested that the Penang Gover-nment should provide its own compensation scheme to the affected fishermen.
“The state had insisted on the construction of the bridge. When it is completed, the state will benefit greatly from it. It is only fair, they help out fishermen who are distressed by the project,” he said.
Chua also explained that the ministry had to undertake several procedures in approving licences for fishermen as it involved providing various incentives and subsidies to them.
“The Government is giving out incentives and subsidies amounting to between RM1.1bil and RM1.5bil each year for fishermen.
“The diesel subsidy for them alone is the cheapest in the region. It is at RM1.25 per litre compared to RM1.80 at petrol pump stations in the country,” he said.
“For comparison, the diesel price for Indonesia is RM2.75 per litre. It is RM3 and RM3.50 for Thailand and Philippines respectively,” he said, adding that the ministry was always looking for ways to ease the burden of fishermen.