KOTA BELUD, (March 30) — Minister of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said an all-encompassing and comprehensive discussion is needed if the issue on the proposed increase of Sabah’s oil royalty is brought up.
Abdul Rahman who is also an UMNO Supreme Council member said as a local leader of Sabah, he agreed on principle with the suggestion to increase the oil royalty but at the same time, various aspects had to be discussed and ironed out.
“I agree with the views of Barisan Nasional youth (Parti Bersatu Sabah, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah and Pertubuhan Pasokmomogun Kadzandusun Murut Bersatu). However, the mechanism must be worked out. What is more important to me is the amount that the Federal Government will allocate to Sabah.
“Will it (development allocation for Sabah) be more than for other states? The oil royalty is not the only source of income for the state but it is also in the form of allocation from the Federal Government,” he told reporters after opening the Kota Belud District Fishermen’s Association Annual General Meeting, in Kota Belud, Sunday.
Abdul Rahman was commenting on a statement by the youth wings of the Parti Bersatu Sabah, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah and the Pertubuhan Pasokmomogun Kadzandusun Murut Bersatu (Upko) which suggested that the Federal Government increased the oil royalty to Sabah by 20 percent.
At the opening ceremony, Abdul Rahman handed out the Cost of Living Allowance of RM200 each to 556 fishermen.
According to him, the opposition parties intentionally played up the oil royalty purely for political reasons but they failed to touch on the mechanics of implementation even though they had been asked several times to do so.
He said the opposition was supposed to provide the mechanism for the payment of the additional royalty of RM12.5 billion a year to Sabah, Sarawak and Terengganu if it was increased from the present five percent to 20 percent, and not just stop at making the demand for the 20 percent increase.
Abdul Rahman asked if the oil royalty was increased, would the state governments, especially those led by the opposition parties, be willing to accept a smaller development allocation from the Federal Government?
What was important, Abdul Rahman said, was the commitment of the present-day Federal Government in providing a large development allocation to Sabah every year and not be too focused on the oil royalty.
Meanwhile speaking to reporters later, Abdul Rahman denied claims by certain quarters that the on-going rationalisation of subsidies was a cruelty to the people.
On the other hand, he said the move was to ensure the subsidies reached the targetted groups.
“Cruelty is giving subsidy to those who are not entitled to it. Cruelty is condoning the rampant leakages via smuggling.
“If the opposition says the restructuring of subsidies is cruel, I want to stress that it is more unjust to allow leakages amounting to hundreds of millions of ringgit, prior to this, going unchecked,” Abdul Rahman said.
Abdul Rahman said the gain from the rationalisation of subsidies could be used for national development besides giving direct aid to the people such as the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).
In his speech, the minister said the rationalisation exercises did not mean the welfare of the well-to-do was ignored as they were also taxpayers.
However, he said the government had another approach to help them progress, stay competitive and contribute towards the national development, including by providing modern and advanced infrastructure.
Abdul Rahman reminded the fishermen to make full use of all the subsidies given, including those for diesel and petrol, to boost their economy and not sell them to others. –BERNAMA