A NEW year dawns upon us once again and the old chapter closes its book. As for me, I'm privileged to write this year's first Monday View column of this newspaper.
Like any other person, I have my own wishlist and would like to see some things get better this year.
As a reporter of 12 years covering the agricultural sector, I would confine my aspirations within that segment.
For a start, I would like to see the successful listing of Felda Global Ventures by the first quarter of this year as it is the best platform for settlers as well as investors outside of Felda to own a stake in a global company.
That will turn the settlers into shareholders and many of them can become potential millionaires.
The flotation can incentivise every stakeholder which also include Felda employees, so that they can get a piece of the prosperity. This could enhance their performance.
The planned listing of Felda Glo-bal Ventures is only a glass half full. The glass will be full when Felda Global is listed.
We already have global champions on the way such as Petronas (oil and gas), Maybank (banking) and TM (telecommunications).
We have to list Felda to make it at par with other world-class plantation companies like Sime Darby, PPB Oil Palms, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, IOI Corp and even Singapore's Wilmar group.
Another wishlist of mine is for the plantation sector to control the entire sector of the industry.
Currently, Malaysia only controls the upstream sector of the plantation industry. However, other operations down the value chain, especially crude palm oil prices, are influenced and dictated by agriculture trading giants of the West like Cargill, Archer Daniels and Midlands, Chicago's CME group and forecasters outside of Malaysia such as Oil World, LMC International Ltd and others.
It is time we bring the entire spectrum of the business back to our shores and be a fully integrated champion.
Meanwhile, we should also beef up our Malaysian Rubber Board as the premier reference point forthe rubber industry.
I have often wondered why our commodities like rubber are being traded and dictated at trading houses as far as the Tokyo Commodity Exchange when the country cannot even grow a single rubber tree.
Another wishlist is for our plantation companies to be given more incentives to grow crops abroad due to limited land at home.
We should emulate companies which are from relatively small countries like Finland's Nokia, Japan's Toyota and Holland's Shell group that have limited home operations but own business tentacles all over the world.
They are masters at their fields and we should also do what we know best - developing our natural resources further.
This is not a far-fetched idea because we are, among others, already the world's second largest oil palm producer, top-ten furniture maker, largest rubber glove maker, third largest natural rubber producer and top-20 tropical timber harvester.
Other potential sectors which we can delve into include tuna fishing as well as cattle breeding, of which Felda is already venturing in that direction by going to Australia to rear cattle.
My final wishlist is that the government should relax or abolish some of the various taxes imposed on the plantations industry.
The oil palm sector is the most heavily taxed sector ranging from mill tax, workers levy and corporate tax to export tax. This does not include individual tax imposed by respective state governments, on top of the federal taxes.
Do away with the tax and other sectors including the European farmers will see how inefficient they are in relying too much on government subsidies. Other industries will get to see and learn how self- sufficient and efficient our plantations industry really is and almost free, if not entirely free, of government subsidies.