Special council to monitor implementation of MA63 agreements

A gathering in Kuching on Jan 19, calling for the restoration of Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: A special council will be set up to monitor the implementation of matters agreed upon in the special Cabinet steering committee for the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), a Sarawak assistant minister said today.

State Assistant Minister for Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said the council would be headed by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

She said its members would include the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak.

She said this in a statement today following the final special Cabinet committee meeting on MA63 in Putrajaya yesterday, chaired by Mahathir.

To date, a total of 21 issues have been submitted to the special Cabinet committee on MA63 for deliberation. As of July 23 this year, seven issues had been agreed upon by all, she said.

“Among the issues that received joint agreement are the monitoring power over the distribution of gas and electricity, the setting up of a joint action council to monitor federal government projects in the state, autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak over labour conditions peculiar to the state under their respective labour ordinances, as well as the setting up of a special joint management committee to discuss matters concerning Sabah and Sarawak’s health management issues,” she said.

However, Sharifah said issues involving the review of a special grant, oil royalty, state land handed over to the federal government and residual legislative power, among others, were still under deliberation.

“The finance ministry has also agreed to discuss further the review of special grants, particularly on procedures and formula.

“This includes the financial replacement of the import and excise duty for petroleum products which was stopped after the signing of the Asean Free Trade Area by Putrajaya in 2001,” she said.

Petronas, Petros and the Sarawak government will continue to discuss matters concerning petroleum and gas.

She said the oil and gas royalties issue would be discussed separately by the prime minister and chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak in December.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg, when met during the launch of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority at Yayasan Sarawak today, said the payment of 5% sales tax on petroleum products by Petronas was not brought up in the special Cabinet committee meeting yesterday.

“It was not discussed. If they (Petronas) refuse to pay (the 5% sales tax), then we’ll sue them,” he said.

On Nov 4, Abang Johari said the Sarawak government had issued a notice of assessment to Petronas for payment of the 5% sales tax on petroleum products.

“Under the State Sales Tax Ordinance 1998, Petronas is legally obligated to pay 5% sales tax on petroleum products and their failure to do so would be tantamount to a breach of the law,” he said.

Initially, Sharifah said, Petronas had asked the state government not to take any legal action as it had to wait for Putrajaya to give it the green light to pay the sales tax.

“But there still has been no outcome despite the negotiations and issuance of notice of assessment,” she said.

Later, state Utilities Minister Stephen Rundi Utom said there would be no further deadline extensions for Petronas to pay the 5% sales tax on petroleum products.

“No more new deadlines. Enough is enough for us. We have the right (to impose the sales tax). The agreement has already been made and nothing can change the law,” he said.