At a dialogue session organised by the Malaysian French Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamd played down the state-federal tussle over the 20% oil royalty. The increase was promised to Sabah and Sarawak by the Pakatan Harapan government (PH) if it came to power.
After a long period of procrastination, it is clear and transparent that the PH government has no intention of keeping its promise. The hope for more oil royalty for development funds has now been marked down as another election promise meant to be broken.
THE recent natural gas deal between Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and state-owned Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) is expected to provide a boost to Sarawak’s downstream operations.
The handover of authority over the supply, sales and distribution of natural gas in Sarawak to Petros effective Jan 1 this year has given the fuel-rich state room to manage its resources — which account for 54% of total national gas reserves and 29% of national oil reserves.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is optimistic that the oil and gas (O&G) industry in the state, particularly Miri as the O&G hub, will thrive and help boost the state’s economy.
In referring to the setting up of a new office by a Japanese company JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration (Malaysia) in Miri recently, Abang Johari said that it is a good sign as it shows that the oil and gas industry players are slowly coming back to Miri.
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.