KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan today questioned the need for another round of studies to determine the actual figure for the 40% special grant payment of nett revenue derived from the state.
Jeffrey (STAR-Tambunan) said the payment has been overdue for over 50 years and contended the actual sum should be known by now.
“Do we still need another study by the federal government? We still don’t know much is to be paid?
“I request that the state government do its own study on tax and petroleum collections. From there, we can demand the central government to settle the payment, based on the constitution.
“No need to do another study,” he said in response to a reply by Chief Minister Shafie Apdal to his inquiry during question time at the state assembly sitting here today.
Jeffrey had asked Shafie when the state was claiming back the 40% owed in backdated payments amounting to some RM1 trillion.
The special grant is a provision under Article 112C(1)(a) of Part V of the Tenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
Jeffrey, who is also Keningau MP, also asked if the state government would consider taking the federal government to court to claim the payment, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Shafie had earlier told the house that discussions had been held at various levels of the steering committee to review and implement the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) on March 5. It was then agreed that a revision on the special grant should be implemented.
Following that, Shafie said the Sabah government had submitted a draft of guidelines to the federal government on how to revise the special grant payment in a more structured basis last July 9.
He said the amount the state is claiming is based on a clause in the Federal Constitution that states two-fifths, or 40%, of the nett revenue from the state, which are collected by federal departments and agencies, should be paid back to Sabah.
“We are still waiting for a response from the federal government on the matter. I am confident the relations between the state and federal government are good and I hope it can be realised soon,” he said.
Shafie agreed the claim was long overdue but dismissed any suggestion of dragging the federal government to court.
He said administering the country was not easy. The calculations involved to arrive at the actual payment figure were tedious and complicated.
“The collection involves the Inland Revenue Board, customs, immigration and other agencies. So we need to figure out how much was really collected by these agencies from Sabah.
“This is not easy and I have instructed the state finance ministry and state economic planning unit to look into this.
“But our approach is that we are one country and dragging Putrajaya to court to realise our claims is not a good idea,” Shafie said, adding however that the payment issue should have been resolved long before.
Shafie said there were other options available such as having an equity in Petronas so the state can enjoy the dividends, if the 20% oil royalty claim is difficult to achieve.
He added that other options involved ensuring oil and gas contracts are carried out by government-linked companies in Sabah.
The Senallang assemblyman was optimistic about discussions so far over the rights and status of Sabah and Sarawak with regards to MA63, saying Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad was sincere in delivering what is right, according to the constitution.