BAU: Petronas has responded to being sued by the Sarawak government by filing in court its statement of defence yesterday.

The federal government-owned oil and gas corporation is being sued for having failed to pay the state’s five per cent sales tax (SST) on petroleum.

Petronas’ move was confirmed by Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring) Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, who said that tomorrow (December 9) was the deadline for Petronas to respond to the suit.

“It was given 14 days to say that it would be present in court. After appearing in court, it has another 14 days to file in a statement of defence,” she said.

“They met the deadline, which means they are challenging us. We are waiting for the court to fix a date for the hearing,” she said in a press conference after delivering her talk entitled ‘Revisit the Implementation of Sarawak’s Rights under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63)’ during a discourse for Bau District organised by Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep at Bau Civic Centre yesterday.

Sharifah Hasidah speaks at a press conference after attending the Intellectual Discourse programme at Bau Civic Centre. With her is Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Jinep. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

She was confident that the state government would win the case because Sarawak had the right to impose the SST.

“We are just enforcing and exercising our rights under the law and the Federal Constitution (FC). They should not challenge our right to enforce our law, to impose our constitutional right.

“Even in the IGC report, the State Constitution and the Sarawak Sales Tax Ordinance clearly give us the right to impose tax on commodities,” she said.

She said of course Petronas had to challenge the state, but she believed the state had a good case and, God willing, Sarawak would win.

When asked how much Petronas should pay the state, Hasidah said she could not reveal the figure, but it is believed to be in a few billion ringgit.

“We are suing them for unpaid tax from January to June this year because the SST was enforced beginning in January this year,” she said. Petronas is the only company operating in the state that has yet to pay the SST although they were given the October deadline to pay up. As such the state government had no choice but to sue the corporation.