Monday, October 31, 2011

Putrajaya insists national cattle project a success

Noh said the project had reached its stated target using Putrajaya’s yardstick. — File pic

The government defended today the RM73.64 million National Feedlot Centre (NFC) project, insisting that the cattle farming scheme met its target of producing 8,000 heads of cattle by 2010.

Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Seri Noh Omar told Parliament today that the ministry has already given its feedback to the Auditor-General over the NFC that was included in the 2010 report.

Reading from the report, the Tanjong Karang MP said “the total number of cattle brought into the farm was 8,016 between 2008 and 2010.”

“Of that total, 5,742 were slaughtered up to November 2010. Therefore, the target of 8,000 cattle by 2010 was met. It is a success,” he said.

The 2010 Auditor General’s report said the project — linked to minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s family — to create Malaysia’s “Beef Valley” had turned into a mess.

It said production in 2010 was only 3,289 heads of cattle or 41.1 per cent of the target set.

After listing the ministry’s reply, Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang said in his opinion, “the production target of 8,000 cattle for 2010 was not met as only 5,742 cattle was slaughtered.”

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the centre is expected to produce 60,000 heads of cattle by 2015.

Noh Omar also denied that the project was awarded directly to Agroscience Industries Sdn Bhd, a company owned by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Shahrizat’s husband, Datuk Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail.

“There is no conflict of interest. It is just a coincidence. The government invited several companies to table their proposals in 2006. Only six companies tabled their proposals,” he told reporters later.

The MoA also released the biodata of NFC’s top management, naming Shahrizat’s three children Izran, 27, Izmir, 31, and Izzana, 25, as chief executive and executive directors respectively as earlier reported by The Malay Mail on June 24.

The document further said that Mohamad Salleh, NFC’s executive chairman, holds a doctorate in fermentation technology and was head of food science at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia in 1981.

Noh also clarified that half of a RM13 million grant and RM115 million out of a RM250 soft loan, to be repaid at a two per cent interest rate over 17 years, has yet to be given to NFC.

The project is also undergoing a Finance Ministry Viability and Business Model review, but Noh said he expects the “ongoing project” to continue as it has fulfilled its obligations.

He said that the “young Bumiputera entrepreneur” leading the project had succeeded despite various obstacles including having to build an abattoir after the government’s tender to build the facility was cancelled.

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