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Comprehensive discussion needed: Rahman

Published on: Monday, March 31, 2014

Kota Belud: An all-encompassing and comprehensive discussion is needed if the issue on the proposed increase in oil royalty to Sabah is brought up, said Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan Sunday.

Abdul Rahman, who is also Umno Supreme Council member, said he agreed with the suggestion to increase the oil royalty but, at the same time, various aspects have to be looked into and discussed.

"As a matter of principle and as a leader of Sabah, I agree with the views of the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) Barisan Nasional (BN) youth wings.

However, the mechanism must be worked out.

"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, here.

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 increase the oil royalty to Sabah to 20 per cent. At the ceremony, Abdul Rahman also handed out monthly living allowance of RM200 to 560 fishermen.

According to Abdul Rahman who is also Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) Secretary, the amount of development funds given annually to Sabah and Sarawak is another vital aspect that needs to be looked into when discussing the oil royalty issue.

"When calling for such review (of oil royalty to Sabah and Sarawak), they should not only focus on the oil royalty alone but the overall funds channelled to Sabah and Sarawak by the Federal Government.

"As we all know, Sabah and Sarawak are getting a bigger chunk of development funds from the annual budget compared to other states in the country.

"So, this aspect matters...although the oil royalty is five per cent, the Federal Government is committed in giving huge development funds to both states and this is proven in the annual national budget," he said.

Abdul Rahman, who is also Kota Belud MP, said the opposition had deliberately played up the Sabah oil royalty issue for their political mileage.

He said Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had made promises to increase Sabah and Sarawak's oil royalty from five per cent to 20 per cent but he has yet to explain his mechanism to make this a reality.

"My question to Anwar is how he would come up with RM12.5 billion (additional 15 per cent) to be given to three oil producing states - Sabah, Sarawak and Terengganu - and where does he get the money for that?

"Somehow other non-producing oil states like Selangor, Kelantan and Penang must be able to sacrifice as their development funds must be cut to commit for the RM12.5 billion to be paid out, otherwise it's not going to happen.

Is Anwar willing to do this?"

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.