Clock ticking on Petronas to pay Sarawak’s sales tax on petroleum products

Petronas Twin Towers, a major tourist attraction — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Sept 25: All eyes are on Petronas, whether the national oil company will pay Sarawak its 5 per cent sales tax on petroleum products before the Sept 30 deadline.

It is expected that the amount could reach up to RM3 billion, after the sales tax was imposed in January this year.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has repeatedly said that the money will be channelled towards the state infrastructure development, especially road network and amenities such as treated water and electricity supply, which was still lagging in the rural areas.

If Petronas refuses to pay, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government would consider its legal options, he said.

When posed this question on Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan, he said that should Petronas refuses to pay, then the course of action is to bring Petronas to court.

“I am confident the court will give judgement in favour of the Sarawak government but that’s not going to be the end. What will happen if Petronas doesn’t want to obey the order of the court?

“If that happens, then the Sarawak government has to bring the matter to court again, seeking a court order to seal and to seize properties belonging to Petronas, but will the state government take this drastic step?

“I doubt it,” he told DayakDaily today.

He also warned that should the state government were to go all out to pursue the matter with Putrajaya, then there would be serious repercussions from the federal government once the suits are filed against Petronas.

“There are likely to be repercussions. Firstly, Sarawak may not be able to get the 5 per cent oil and gas royalties.

“I think there is no more oil and gas royalties but the royalties is now substituted with ‘cash payments’ twice a year.

“Sarawak had, in all these decades, been short changed and our oil and gas could easily contribute more than RM100 billion each year to the federal coffer but, what we used to get in return were only a few billion ringgit annually,” he opined.

Voon warned that the next repercussion may come from the Finance Minister and the federal Cabinet, who may refuse to give Sarawak proper fund allocations when Budget is tabled in Parliament.

“Pakatan Harapan lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak have to back the Budget, because under the parliamentary democracy system, the MPs have to support all government policies and bills into law.

“Even if the MPs from Sabah and Sarawak are allowed to oppose, they are still outnumbered,” he said.

As such, Voon said the only way for Sarawak to solve all these mess is to seek independence from the Federation of Malaysia, similar to what Singapore did in 1965.

“Since the GPS Government has no intention to get out of Malaysia, we urge the people of Sarawak to support and vote PBK in the coming elections to take over the Sarawak government.

“PBK will find ways to leave Malaysia like what Singapore had done,” he said.

State Legislative Assembly (DUN) speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar told a press conference on Sept 13 that Sarawak would give Petronas until the end of September to make payment.

Mohd Asfia, who is also chairman of the Consultative Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), said Petronas would have no choice but to pay the sales tax, while saying that the state has leverage and the “Constitution is on our side”.

Meanwhile, when contacted, both State Reform Party (Star) president Lina Soo and Sarawak Association for People’s Aspirations (Sapa) president, Dominique Ng, said Sarawak has all the rights at its disposal to pursue the matter and were optimistic that Sarawak will get its due. — DayakDaily