Dr M to discuss O&G royalty issue with Sabah and Sarawak next month

Dr Mahathir (grey suit) having a light moment with Abang Johari (to his left) after the MA63 steering committee meeting.

KUCHING, Nov 19: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will further discuss the issue of royalty and cash payments related to petroleum and gas next month with Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Assistant Minister Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali disclosed the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Steering Committee has agreed that discussions between the federal and state governments with Petronas and Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) will continue but be held separately.

The Steering Committee meeting which was held in Putrajaya yesterday was the fifth since the committee’s first meeting on Dec 17 last year.

The committee was set up to review MA63 as part of the federal government’s efforts to restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in Malaysia.

Chaired by Dr Mahathir, 23 other members consisting of federal cabinet ministers, Abang Johari, Shafie Apdal, and ministers and top government officials from Sabah and Sarawak attended the meeting.

According to Sharifah Hasidah, to date, a total of 21 issues have been submitted to the Steering Committee for them to examine and review together.

“As of July 23, seven issues have been agreed upon and this was announced by Mahathir on Aug 19. Among the things that have been agreed upon are handing over regulation of gas distribution in Sarawak to the state in accordance with the state’s Distribution of Gas Ordinance 2016, handing over authority to Sabah and Sarawak through a subsidiary legislation of “labour conditions peculiar to the state” under the respective state’s labour ordinance and set up a Special Affairs Committee to discuss matters on a regular basis pertaining to the health issues of the state of Sarawak and Sabah,” she revealed in a press statement.

Although yesterday’s meeting would be the last for the Steering Committee, Sharifah Hasidah asserted that there are other issues that are still being discussed such as reviews of special grants, oil royalties and payments, federal owned state land, legal residual powers and many other things.

“On the issue of special grants, the Ministry of Finance has agreed to discuss further in detail on the process and procedure for reviewing as well as the formulas to be used. They will further discuss other matters, such as financial resources allocated to the state government, and import and excise duties on petroleum products which was terminated after the federal government signed the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in 2001,” she added. — DayakDaily