RM18 bln dividend to govt in 2021 doable

Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz

KUALA LUMPUR: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) can afford the RM18 billion dividend for the government that was announced under Budget 2021. Anything more will be deliberated by the board, according to its president and group chief executive officer Tengku Muhammad Tauflk Tengku Aziz.

“If you ask me now if the dividend of RM18 billion announced under Budget 2021 is something we can bear, my answer is yes. It is still within the affordability,” he said.

He said if there was any additional request by the government, it would be looked into and would be based from the perspective of liquidity and solvency as Petronas is governed by the Companies Act.

He reiterated that dividend pay-out to the government will be based on its affordability after a rigorous due diligence on its financial commitment.

“Dividend process is not a directive (from the government), but based on request for our consideration. We will fulfill the request if we have the means to do it,” he told Bernama in an interview.

He said Petronas would examine the request and lay out its capital and working commitment. He also stressed that the national oil company would need to build its buffer should there be further market shocks such as low oil prices.

“After all of these are satisfied, and should they ask us and we can still afford it, then we will comply,” said Tengku Muhammad Taufik, adding that the RM10 billion dividend pay-out to the government in November last year was after a consideration for the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The RM10 billion was in additional to the RM24 billion paid last year.

He noted that the oil price movement was a good metric to gauge possible dividend pay-outs. The oil price is currently hovering above $60 per barrel.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz had said that Petronas’ dividend to the government is based on its performance and taking into consideration its funding needs for operation, obligation and capital expenditure. – Bernama