By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Jan 20: There is no limit to how high the state government can impose its sales tax on oil and gas resources, as it is within its constitutional rights.
However, Sarawak government will take consideration of the national needs when reviewing its taxation in the future, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“There is no capping of the sales tax on petroleum products in Sarawak but GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) is a responsible government. We see the economic environment of the country.
“Say for instance, we see that the price of oil today is US$62 per barrel, and last few weeks, it was between US$52-US$54 per barrel. So, we will take into consideration the national needs,” he told a press conference after launching GPS at Stadium Perpaduan here on Saturday evening.
Abang Johari, who is also state Finance Minister, was commenting on Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing who suggested that Sarawak government implement 10 per cent Sales Tax on petroleum products.
Tiong made the suggestion in his speech at the GPS launch event earlier.
“GPS would not do that in the interest of the nation for the time being. To us, five per cent is just nice at the moment. If the revenue from oil and gas is more in the future, we will increase. Why not? Because there is no capping (on sales tax for oils and gas),” he explained.
When asked on the progress of talks between the state and Putrajaya with regards to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), Abang Johari expressed content that meetings with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have been fruitful thus far.
“What I brought to the meeting was the voice from the DUN (State Legislative Assembly). So far, it has been a good negotiation,” he said.
Sarawak Steering Committee in the MA63 negotiation included the State Attorney-General, Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and DUN deputy speaker Dato Gerawat Gala among others.
Following the official launch of GPS as a political entity, Abang Johari said the next step for the government coalition is explain its struggle to the people at the grassroot level.
“What’s next for GPS is for us to go down to the ground and explain our objectives, especially the nine pillars of GPS.
“It was also crucial for Sarawakians to know the real struggle of GPS, which is now facing a new era on its own after the era of the Alliance and the Barisan Nasional,” continued Abang Johari, who is also GPS chairman. — DayakDaily