State sales tax: High Court decision on Petronas judicial review scheduled for March 13

Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar

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By Dorcas Ting

KUCHING, Feb 4: The High Court here will deliver its decision over the judicial review application filed by Petronas against Sarawak’s imposition of State Sales Tax on petroleum products and condensates on March 13.

High Court Judge Azhahari Kamal Ramli today fixed March 13 to deliver his decision after hearing the submissions from both parties yesterday and today.

Petronas represented by lead lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar after today’s hearing, told the press that the objective and formation of Petronas was raised in court today.

He said, according to the Hansard, Petronas was set up as the national oil company for the purpose of national growth and national economic foundation, across the whole country.

He said, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud who was the Primary Industry Minister in 1974 moved and tabled the Petroleum Development Act 1974 (PDA 1974).

“The PDA 1974 followed the model in Indonesia, because we moved to production sharing contract, where previously our system was concession based.

“The difference is, concessionaires own the oil whereas in production sharing the state owns the oil at that time.”

According to Malik, this was the idea of the government at that time and the bill was therefore moved.

“In terms of looking at Petronas, we argued it has special status because it was created by law to serve a purpose, unlike other companies.”

He pointed out that this relate to their arguement on legitimate expectation where they expect no further payment, for the judge to decide.

From left: Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Santubong Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, State Attorney-General (SAG) Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid, and State Legal Counsel Datuk Seri JC Fong at the Kuching court complex.

“Both sides agreed he (judge) has to find out the meaning of the provision Article 95B(3) of the Legislature of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and harmonise it with the rest of the Constitution.

“Both sides agreed, but both sides have different ideas on what that might mean. The court also has to decide what is “sale” in the purpose of law.” — DayakDaily