By LINA SOO
COMMENT: The national budget unveiled Friday by Lim Guan Eng, the Finance Minister, can best be described as a kindergarten budget lacking substance and tangibility.
As for Sarawak, it is just a Big Fat Zero, one of the reasons being Sarawak’s allocation of RM4.346 billion for development is a mere 0.23% increase from the RM4,346 billion which Sarawak received in 2017.
PM Tun Dr Mahathir has just announced that Petronas has money to pay federal government RM30 billion which is a special dividend attributed to the rising price from less than $50 at the beginning of the year. Sarawak produces the most expensive oil in the world which is the darling of refiners for its lightness and extremely low sulphur content.
With its oil price at $77 today, and Sarawak producing as much as 800,000 boe (barrel oil equivalent) per day, this is equivalent to a production of RM250 million every single day.
Why is Sarawak not getting a sen of this ‘windfall profit’ due to the recent increased price for Sarawak oil. Instead RM30 billion of this extraordinary profit will go to the Federal government which already receives royalty, dividend and taxes, with nothing for Sarawak which is the goose that lays the golden egg.
Sarawak alone contributes 10-12% of Malaysia’s GDP annually. At RM115 billion in 2017, an allocation of 4.3 billion is just 3% of Sarawak’s contribution. Out of the national budget of RM341 billion, Sarawak is getting a mere 1.2% for all its contribution. What is the benefit of remaining in a relationship where one party has to give is all out of gross proportion to what one receives in return.
Pakatan’s sweet words of equal partners and empty promises of development for Sarawak are mere political rhetoric to hoodwink Sarawakians. When Budget time comes, we are just equal partners to Perlis or Kedah.
Sarawakians are now better aware of our interests, rights and protections enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement and our Constitutions, and sweet promises of nothings will no longer pacify Sarawakians so easily as in the past. The people of Sarawak will be more determined now in demanding their rights and dues which had gone unheeded and been cruelly brushed aside for so long.
We urge the Sarawak government to take action to compel Petronas to share half of its windfall profits generated from Sarawak which had been exploited and impoverished us for so long. Sarawak Reform Party shall continue to play its role effectively as critique and watchdog for Sarawak.
• Lina Soo is President of Sarawak Reform Party (STAR)