Here's the NST report:
GEMAS: Insisting it has nothing to hide, National Feedlot Corp has come out to counter allegations levelled at the nation’s biggest cattle farming company.
Salleh revealed that the company bought two condominiums for RM6.9million each in Bangsar, a move he considered as a “good business decision” as it gave better investment returns than keeping NFC funds in fixed deposits.
He denied opposition allegations that the cattle-rearing venture in Gemas was a failure, saying that it would start showing profits from now on after a two-year start-up and some teething problems.
“I am a scientist and businessman. I started the Technology Park. I was there for 18 years. It is successful. When I put up my business plan for this feedlot, I knew I would make it successful. We are now expanding in the third year of our business.”
In an intense two-hour press conference at the sprawling farm, Salleh, who had previously headed Technology Park Malaysia, said NFC did not make money in the first year as they were starting from scratch, “fork to farm”.
He said his company had secured the project in a selective tender, where five other companies had also put in bids, and not because his wife was a minister.
His wife Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, the minister of women, family and community development.
Salleh said the company’s presentation during the selection process was clear, simple and had noble plans of helping to transform cattle-rearing in rural areas into a business and to see a reduction in food imports.
“Our goals are clear.”
The media were also taken on a tour of its mini-abattoir to watch the slaughtering and packing process. Later, they were taken to the 607ha centre that holds about 1,500 head of cattle. The next batch of cattle will be arriving at the end of this month bringing the number in the feedlot to 4,000.
The centre also has offices, a lab, feed store and accommodation.
Salleh kept his composure throughoutthe two hours as he was grilled by reporters on the assortment of allegations made by the opposition and on the running of the project.
He explained that the company has a special loan account under the soft loan facility amounting to RM250 million, of which there was still a balance of RM69 million.
"We take the money when we need it. We have not started paying yet," he said to print and electronic media in a small meeting room at the NFC.
Under the agreement, he said the company will start paying for the private project with a two per cent government interest a year once they have used the entire loan and after the government builds a large abattoir at NFC. Now, the centre has a mini abattoir.
The company will pay RM7 million for 17 years to clear the debt taken from the government in 2009, he said.
He revealed that NFC owned not one but two luxury condominiums in Bangsar, One Merenung.
On the two units of luxury condo, he said it was a good investment made under the company's name and not under an individual.
"If we keep the money in FD (fixed deposit), we make 3.5 per cent a year. But rental is giving us RM12.9 per cent returns.
"We also have rebates from the developer. It is a business decision.
"Furthermore, if anyone asks why is it in Bangsar? Because property prices here do not drop.
"Even if we sell at the same price, we make money because the rental for each unit is RM17,000 a month," he said.
He was also asked on the 2012 Auditor-General's Report this year which had said the NFC was in a "mess".
He said if one were to look at the details at the A-G's report, NFC had met the target.
He explained that the centre had 8,016 cows as compared with the target of 8,000 cattle last year.
"The problems were the road leading to NFC which are not tarred. That road is under the government."
The report also highlighted on the poorly kept grass and the unkempt pond.
"There was nothing we could do because the A-G came to visit us just after the Gemas floods."
On the A-G's report which stated that the NFC only reached 41.1 per cent of its target for last year, he said there were two ways to look at it.
The first was the cattle, which were from Australia, took about four to six months before it could be slaughtered.
Furthermore, he said they were new in the business and did not have the market to sell their meat.
"We did not have proper certification from the Veterinary Department.
"That took six months. No one wanted to buy from us until we had approval for the meat sold from the department."
Last year, he said the sale of meat went up after receiving approval from the department.
He said even though it was a home-based meat production venture, but for a start they had to visit several countries, one of them being Australia to secure the cattle.
He said the feedlot was crucial for food security of the country.
At persent, the local consumption was 29 per cent while the remainder was imported.
The company, which started in 2009, was given a 30-year contract by the government with an extension of another 30 years.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat had also said the company's record showed a further RM2,640.93 of cattle was donated on Nov 30, 2009 to Yunus Rahmat, a Klawang assemblyman and a state executive councillor in Negri Sembilan.
However, Salleh said one cow was given to both for korban purposes.
"The donation was from us. It is part of our Corporate Social Responsibility. We sit in their area. It is a good gesture. We cannot give any less. So that is why we gave one cow."
He said former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Zulhasnan Rafique had also taken on credit several thousand ringgit worth of cows two years ago.
"He has settled his debt," said Salleh.
He was also asked on the opposition's claim that Shahrizat had taken RM26, 400 from the NFC account for her personal use.