Sabah to continue pursuing state rights, says Shafie

Shafie Apdal says discussions with the federal government will include increasing the petroleum royalty payment to at least 20%.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Shafie Apdal today pledged to continue efforts by the previous administration to reclaim 40% of all revenue collected from the state.

He said his administration would continue negotiating with the federal government in line with the commitments made in Parti Warisan Sabah’s election manifesto in the last polls.

He said Sabah’s finance ministry had also informed him that a special committee was set up to study the matter and act as a discussion platform for the state and federal governments.

“The state government is studying the matter, and we will reactive the special committee if it is deemed suitable, to ensure that negotiations are continued,” he said in his winding-up speech to debate the Sabah governor’s policy speech.

He added that the talks would include increasing the petroleum royalty payment from the current 5% to at least 20%.

Tambunan assemblyman Jeffrey Kitingan, who is the acting opposition leader, had asked what the government, which he called a “temporary government”, planned to do about restoring the state’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

He said he would table a motion to debate the issue if the state government did not do anything about it.

Meanwhile, Shafie said the state’s public funds stood at over RM3.3 billion as of June 18 this year, adding that the state’s working capital was adequate to sustain operational costs.

“The state government’s liability consists of RM2.87 billion loans from the federal government and RM1 billion of issued bonds as of Dec 31 last year.

“As of now, the state has no outstanding payments for the federal government’s loans. The state government is required to repay the bonds on a bullet payment basis of the lump sum of RM1 billion, which will mature on Dec 9, 2019,” he said.

He also said the state had allocated a sum of RM150.7 million a year to repay the federal loans for 20 years at zero interest for social undertakings such as water and sewage projects and 4% interest for commercial projects.

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