Sarawak now has full control and authority over the supply, sales and distribution of natural gas within the state following an agreement signed between state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) and Petronas today.
Deputy Chief Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan is hopeful that the state would now be able to attract more investors, adding that in the past, Sarawak had missed many investment opportunities due to insufficient gas supply.
He said as a result, the state government was previously left with no choice but to “beg” from Petronas and even wrote to the prime minister for more gas supply.
The Federal Constitution does not limit the powers of the Sarawak legislature on the type of goods to be subjected to state sales tax, Sarawak legal counsel JC Fong said today.
Submitting at the hearing of Petronas’ judicial review application against the state sales tax in the High Court here, Fong said Article 95B(3) did not restrict or limit the range of goods that may be subject to state sales tax.
“It is not for the judges who are not legislators to make the law or rewrite the constitutional provision,” he said.
Petronas has claimed that some parts of the state Sales Tax Ordinance 1998 which require the national oil company to pay the 5% sales tax on petroleum products to Sarawak are “unconstitutional”.
Therefore, the notice of assessment issued by the Sarawak government to Petronas, seeking payment of the state sales tax on petroleum products, was also considered to be invalid, said Petronas lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.
Since national oil company Petronas began extracting oil and gas in Sarawak from 1976 to 2017, it had earned a total revenue of about RM660 billion, but only RM33 billion was returned to Sarawak, said Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali.
The state de facto law minister said if Sarawak were to have a hand in its own oil and gas resources since then, it would have been in a better economic position now to attain a high income economy and develop the state by the year 2030.
Petronas today failed in its attempt to disqualify Judicial Commissioner Christopher Chin from hearing the case over Sarawak’s suit for unpaid state sales tax.
Petronas had earlier applied for Chin to discharge himself from hearing the case.
The national oil company claimed that Chin would decide the case to favour the prime minister as his tenure as a judicial commissioner was temporary and was subject to confirmation by the prime minister, who is also the person with ultimate control over Petronas.
Chin, however, said that during his nine months on the bench, he had never been instructed, hinted or urged by his “bosses” — the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak, the chief justice, or any judge or person for that matter — on how he should decide any dispute.
Shares in TH Heavy Engineering Bhd (THHE) rose 25% in active trade this morning after it received the green light from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) to supply certain products and services to oil and gas companies in Malaysia, after a multi-year suspension due to non-performance in 2016.
At 9.11am, THHE was the most actively traded stock on Bursa Malaysia and rose 2.5 sen to 12.5 sen, for a market capitalisation of RM140.17 million.