Sabah Inland Revenue Board (IRB) must be transparent about the tax revenues collected in Sabah.
State Reform Party (STAR) Sabah chairman Jeffrey Kitingan believes that the IRB is churning out figures which does not add up and as such is confusing the real situation involving Sabah constitutional share of its revenues.
He was responding to a statement by IRB Sabah that was published on the front-pages of local dailies that the targeted tax collection from Sabah this year was only RM4 billion and not RM40 billion as reported earlier.
Kitingan contended that it was the IRB who had initially announced the RM40 billion revenue and it now appeared to be back-tracking on the numbers “as if to cover-up” .
He said as per Sabah constitiution, the state is entitled to two-fifths (40%) of the net revenue collected from Sabah.
“The Sabah government must do more and investigate the matter and not be side-tracked by accepting whatever is being pushed down all the time from Kuala Lumpur.
“The duty and responsibility of the Sabah government (is) first and foremost towards the state and the people of Sabah not the political masters from Malaya,” said Kitingan, who is the assemblyman for Bingkor.
Kitingan raised the issue in the just-concluded sitting of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly, the first since the Barisan Nasional coalition government was returned in the 13th general election last month.
“Just looking at several preliminary figures, there appears to be basis for an amount of more than RM4 billion. Petronas takes RM17.88 billion from Sabah’s oil and gas.
“What about the other major oil companies producing oil and gas from Sabah?”
“Sabah also takes about RM1.1 billion in oil palm levies. Sabah produces about 35% of Malaysia’s crude palm oil output and in 2012 Malaysia’s palm oil export earnings posted a value of RM71.3 billion with RM73 billion targeted for 2013.
“Government-linked Sime Darby Berhad has 54,278 hectares of plantations while Felda has some 306,000 acres in Sabah. Many public listed plantation companies have most of their plantations in Sabah.
“Even Yayasan Melaka and Yayasan Selangor have palm oil plantations in Sabah,” said Kitingan, adding that whether it is RM4 billion or RM40 billion, Sabah is still entitled to its legitimate 40% share.
Even assuming the lower figure, he said, that 40% of RM4 billion will increase Sabah’s budget by RM1.6 billion, a whopping 43% increase, which will help the Sabah government and contribute to the well-being of Sabahans.
He pointed out that the issue of linking this 40% entitlement with federal allocations is “idiotic”.
“Firstly, it shows that Sabah BN leaders do not prioritise Sabah but the federal/BN government,
“Secondly, that they are not acting in the best interests of Sabah and Sabahans.
“Thirdly, it seems that they are more interested in bowing to their political masters from Malaya and protecting their party’s interests and their interests and positions which will be jeopardised if they go against the wish of their political masters.
“And finally, they are just accepting whatever is being shaft down their throats without thinking and evaluating what needs to be done from the perspective of Sabah.
“It also lends credence to the saying by people that Sabah BN leaders are remote-controlled by their masters in Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya,” he added.
Kitingan said in just over one month after being elected by Sabahans in the general elections and the Sabah BN leaders are already forgetting about the interests of Sabah and its people.
“The people should seriously consider whether these leaders ought to continue to represent them or be booted out.”
He said on the other hand, the Sabah BN leaders also failed to recognise that it is the duty and responsibility that the federal government to raise and provide development allocations.
“Tiny Perlis and other states without much revenue are still entitled to its development allocations but it does mean that Sabah should be deprived of their allocations.
“If the federal government feels that Sabah is a liability and is so difficult to reimburse Sabah’s entitlement and also to provide development allocations, it should just allow Sabah to go free and allow Sabah to manage its own revenue and resources.
“There is no point in keeping Sabah which is a burden given that the federal government has got a national debt in excess of RM508 billion,” Kitingan said