‘RM15,000 monthly household income if Sarawak retains its oil and gas’

Abang Helmi speaking at the SOGSE 2019 closing ceremony at a hotel in Miri (April 14, 2019).

By Lian Cheng

MIRI, April 14: Dewan Usahawan Bumiputera Sarawak (DUBS) president Datu Abang Helmi Ikhwan says Sarawakians wil have a monthly household income of almost RM15,000 if its oil and gas resource are kept within Sarawak.

He said in general, Sarawakians have no idea how rich they will be if Sarawak were to regain its oil and gas rights.

“The Sarawak government’s action to exert its right over petroleum resources is very well understood by virtually all Sarawakians. People have some idea of how it can change and improves our lives, but most of us may not have a good idea of how rich it will make us as Sarawakians.

“I am not a university professor and do not have a PhD, but I was trained in economics and business in my younger days. I have made some calculation which I have published as a writer. The rsearch I have done indicates that Sarawak is third position behind KL (Kuala Lumpur) and Penang but share third position with Selangor under the Per Capita Ranking. However when measured by Mean Household Income, Sarawak is relegated to number 10, i.e among the poorest in the country.

“Such a contrast can only be explained by the disappearance of oil and gas revenue which does not add to the household income but is virtually kept and utilised by the federal government for use elsewhere.

“My conservative calculation indicates that Sarawak should have monthly household income of almost RM15,000 if the petroleum resources are kept within the state compared with less than RM6,000 that we have now. This is enough to make Sarawak the richest state in Malaysia.

“Imagine, how high our income will be when taking into consideration the multiple effects of our re-investment of petroleum revenue. These are average figures only. There will be many of our people who should be able to earn between RM25,000 to RM50,000 per month.”

He said Sarawak contributes to 40 per cent of Petronas production in the country.

“Now imagine Sarawak with Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Berhad) and its sprawling petrochemical complexes in Miri and Bintulu with over 20,000 direct employees. This should make Sarawak a rich and developed region in the country,” said Abang Helmi at the Sarawak Oil and Gas Seminar and Exhibition (SOGSE) 2019 closing ceremony at a hotel here today.

He said Sarawak will soon be an important player in oil and gas industry instead of just being a bystander.

“We take note of some of the important ideas and suggestions made during the course of the deliberation, incorporate these in the seminar recommendations for the Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) and hope that the state government will examine these carefully and implement them once Sarawak succeed in exerting our rights in the oil and gas resources of the state.

“We are confident with the able hand of our Chief Minister, Sarawak will soon graduate after a long time from a bystander into an important player in the industry.”

He said the administration of petroleum resources is something new for Sarawak and many have no idea how rich it will make her people.

He also urged Sarawak to reinvest its oil and gas revenue and not to fall prey to “the curse of petroleum”.

“One important idea we note is a caution by one of the speakers to make sure that Sarawak does not fall into the trap of reckless overspending and failing to reinvest into the industry and any other viable industries.

“In fact, many countries have been trapped this way, which we may call the curse of petroleum which has befallen petroleum producing countries like Venezuela, Nigeria and to an extent, Malaysia itself.

“In Malaysia, Petronas is very well managed, so well that the federal government becomes notoriously over dependent on it.

“Easy bad budgetary policies of the federal government failed to lift Malaysia from the trap of middle income country we are in now. Instead, Petronas money is finding its way more and more to financing deficit budget requirements to cover operating cost of the federal government which never knows when to stop expanding,” said Abang Helmi.

He said when the federal government failed to handle oil and gas revenue wisely, Sarawak and other oil producing states paid the price.

“We in Sarawak really hate to see this happening when Sarawak and other petroleum producing states continue to suffer as among the poorest states in the countries.

“This is not the country that we dream of. It is a nightmare. This is not the MA63 (the Malaysia Agreement 1963) on which the country was founded,” he added. — DayakDaily