Sarawak opposition members seek meeting on Petronas sales tax deal

Members of the Sarawak assembly’s MA63 consultative committee are concerned that the agreement with Petronas will have detrimental financial consequences for the state. (AFP pic)

KUCHING: Several Sarawak assembly members have urged speaker Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar to call for a meeting to deliberate on matters pertaining to the arrangement between the state government and Petronas on the state’s rights over oil and gas and sales tax.

The call was made by Tanjong Batu assemblyman Chiew Chiu Sing, Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Chang and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How, who were also members of the Sarawak Consultative Committee on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

The speaker is the chairman of this consultative committee.

In a joint statement today, the three assemblymen said the arrangement reached between the Sarawak government and Petronas had proceeded without prior notice, deliberation or sanction of the MA63 consultative committee.

“We are most concerned that the agreement reached between the Sarawak government and Petronas will have detrimental and dire financial consequences for the state.

“Any concession made by the state government in their arrangement and agreement may contravene the desires, demands, and expectations of Sarawakians.

“We earnestly call on the state government not to allow any further steps to be taken by any state authority body or office to give legal effect to any of the terms of settlement until and unless the same have been fully deliberated and agreed upon by the MA63 consultative committee.

“However, we are pleased to note that the chief minister said on May 14 that a new arrangement would be negotiated and that it would have to go through the Sarawak assembly’s MA63 consultative committee,” they said.

Last week, a joint statement by Petronas and the Chief Minister’s Department had revealed that the national oil company had agreed to pay some RM2 billion in sales tax owed to Sarawak for 2019 after reaching a settlement over the dispute on the management of oil and gas extracted from the state.

It also said all previous agreements made under the PDA 1974 remained valid and in force.

“Petronas is still recognised as the national oil company that has full authority in regulating the development of the oil and gas in the country,” it added.

Later on Monday, Asfia had also dismissed an assemblyman’s motion for the state government to reveal the full settlement terms with Petronas on Sarawak’s sales tax for petroleum products.

He said the motion had to be referred to the MA63 consultative committee before it could be brought to the assembly.

“We, therefore, call upon the speaker, who is also the chairman of the consultative committee, to call for a meeting to deliberate on matters pertaining to the negotiations between the state government and Petronas to safeguard the state’s sovereign rights and interests to oil and gas within the territory of Sarawak.”

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