Six-month deadline for conclusive discussions on O&G royalties

KUALA LUMPUR: While discussions on the percentage of oil royalties for Sabah and Sarawak are said to be still ongoing between the federal and state governments, those same negotiations must end conclusively in six months’ time.

“Discussions on the issue of oil royalties were held in a separate forum involving the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Chief Ministers of Sabah and Sarawak. The issue will continue to be discussed,” said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

He was responding to a supplementary question by Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (BN-Kota Marudu) who wanted to know about the development of discussions on increasing oil royalties to Sabah and Sarawak discussed at a Special Cabinet Committee meeting set up to review the implementation of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Indeed negotiations are ongoing, said Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, adding, however, the Special Cabinet Committee formed to fine-tune the method of payment of oil royalty claims has been given six months to discuss and to come up with decisions.

Mohamed Azmin said six months would give enough time to make recommendations before the final decision on how to increase the oil royalty from five percent to 20 percent could be carried out.

According to Liew yesterday, seven issues have been agreed upon.

These are:

• demand for timber and forest produce export duties;

• distribution of gas and electrical regulatory power;

• implementation of Federal and State works projects;

• manpower;

• state authority on health issues;

• administrative management over Sipadan and Ligitan islands, and

• agriculture and forestry issues.

In Dec 2018, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad chaired the first special cabinet steering committee for a review of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to restore the privileges to Sabah and Sarawak.

Among those who attended the meeting were Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng; Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali; Works Minister Baru Bian; Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah; Transport Minister Anthony Loke; Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo; International Trade Minister Datuk Darell Leiking and Liew.

The delegation from Sabah included its attorney-general Datuk Zaleha Rose Pandin and former attorney-general Datuk Stephen Foo, while the delegation from Sarawak included its Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Assistant Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali and Deputy State Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala.

Also present were Attorney-General Tommy Thomas; Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Datuk David Wong and constitutional law expert Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi. – Bernama