Petronas judicial review over sales tax suit to be heard Feb 3-5

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar

By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, Jan 14: The High Court here fixed February 3 to 5 to hear the judicial review by Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) over the State Sales Tax notice by the Sarawak government and Comptroller.

Petronas’ lead counsel, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar told the press that Petronas applied for judicial review as to whether the Comptroller of the State Sales Tax has power and whether errors of law were made in issuing the sales tax notices to Petronas.

“We are challenging the notice itself, and if we are right, the notices are quashed, then there is no claim against Petronas. That’s what we are doing here.

“In the suit of stay, the government of Sarawak had sued Petronas for sales tax which they say is applicable. That is why we do relate to each other.

“We are saying that they (Sarawak government) do not have power under the sales tax ordinance, which contravenes the Federal Constitution.”

He said the contention is that, the Sarawak government has said they could impose a tax on petroleum products while Petronas asserts the Sarawak government cannot impose the sales tax on Petronas.

“That’s why we are here for the court to decide by reference to the constitution and other laws.”

High Court Judge Azhahari Kamal Ramli fixed February 3 to 5 to hear the case.

The case management was conducted earlier this afternoon. The judicial review filed by Petronas is to quash the issuance of notices of assessment by the Sarawak government through its Comptroller of State Sales Tax.

According to a statement issued by Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, three applications were made and fixed for hearing today before the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak in Kuching involving Sarawak suing Petronas for unpaid state sales tax and penalties amounting to RM1.3 billion.

Although applications were supposed to be heard in chambers, the applications were fixed to be heard in open court.

“However, the lawyers for Petronas applied for the application for recusal of the presiding Judicial Commissioner to hear the application in chambers following the massive attendance of public and prominent figures from the Sarawak government that shows very significant support to the State Attorney-General’s team in fighting for the interest of the Sarawak state.

“After hearing arguments from both sides, the presiding Judicial Commissioner reserved his ruling on the recusal application and set 23rd of January 2020 for ruling of the said application and case management of the two applications — one application under Section 84 of the Court of Judicature Act application for Reference of Question to Federal Court by Petronas, and one application for summary judgment under rule 14A of the Rules of Court by the State Government.” — DayakDaily