Sarawak govt should backdate petroleum sales tax, interest to 1976 — SAPA

Dominique Ng (file photo).

KUCHING, June 18:  Sarawak Association of People’s Aspirations (SAPA) has called on the Sarawak Government to claim the 5 percent State Sales Tax (SST) from Petronas plus interest backdated to 1976 and also claim a share of revenue from Petronas’ other global investments. 

Its president Dominique Ng raised the SST issue in response to Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali’s statement that the final amount of state sales tax (SST) to be paid by Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) is still under computation.

To Ng, it would be inconsistent if the Sarawak Government does not strongly follow up on the suggested claims now that the High Court had upheld (in March 2020) that Sarawak is legally entitled to impose the tax on revenue generated on Sarawak soil. 

He has put forward this idea because in his opinion, the court decision appears to confirm that Sarawak is still the owner of its territorial seas resources including oil and gas illegally seized by the federal government pursuant to the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA74).

“However, this position is contradicted by the state government’s recent announcement that it recognised Petronas’ control of oil and gas resources,” said Ng in a statement today.

He called on the GPS Government to clarify whether it has reserved Sarawak’s pre-1963 territorial status and rights over its resources. It would be seen as a surrender if abandoning its effort to claim back those rights especially since Sarawak has very strong legal grounds to do so.

“It would be ‘unjust’ not make a claim on revenue Petronas has generated from Sarawak resources because one of the underlying reasons why Sarawak has remained underdeveloped and backward since 1963, is due to the fact that Petronas revenue from Sarawak has been expropriated to develop Malaya since 1976.” 

Ng who is also former Padungan assemblyman opined that Sarawak should be also entitled to claim a share of revenue from other Petronas’ vast investment portfolio since Sarawak has contributed to the building of those assets and the Sarawak Government must act in the state’s interest to claim those funds.

“According to a press report on 1 Feb 2020, Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali stated that Petronas had earned a total revenue of about RM660 billion from 1976 to 2017, but only RM33 billion was returned to Sarawak. 

“The 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.”

Ng said that the Minister’s figure was at best a “guesstimate” as more revenue has not been published because Petronas’ financial dealings are not transparent but kept as a state secret controlled by the Prime Minister under the PDA74. 

To him, The real figure may amount to trillions if undisclosed revenue from the oil and gas and other Petronas assets are included. 

“This is a very abnormal state of affairs which all the oil producing states must seriously seek to rectify as the pillars of the national economy.

“There is a need for Petronas to be transparent and accountable to Sarawak for extracting it petroleum resources now that Sarawak has successfully asserted its power to impose the sales tax.  If Petronas continues to hide the real size of its revenue Sarawak will remain short changed as it has been for over 40 years,” said Ng.— DayakDaily