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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Will Sabah’s 40% revenue rights be in Budget 2017

KOTA KINABALU - “Sabahans will be waiting eagerly whether Budget 2017 will answer their expectations built on the promises made by PM Najib on Sabah’s rights and the assertion by CM Musa that he has his own ways by whispering to PM Najib and the federal government. Will Budget 2017 see the return of the 40% Net Revenue Entitlement and other additional revenues assigned to Sabah and agreed in the formation of Malaysia in 1963 and entrenched in the Federal Constitution” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, Bingkor State Assemblyman pondering from Sabah’s viewpoint on Budget 2017.

The National Budget 2017 is expected to be tabled by PM Najib this coming 21st October while Musa will be tabling the Sabah Budget 2017 on 18th November.

The 2016 National Budget was recalibrated in January this year to provide for a lower oil price of USD30-35 per barrel.  The current world oil price is about USD52 which means that the national revenue from oil and gas is likely to be higher in 2017 than in Budget 2016.

There is no excuse that the Federal coffers will be lower due to lower oil prices and, therefore, unable to return 40% of the net revenue derived from Sabah. This is clearly provided for in Article 112C and Part IV of the Tenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

It needs to be emphasized that this 40% net revenue entitlement of Sabah is from revenues collected from Sabah and not taken away from any of the other States in Malaysia.   It was also a pre-condition that the founding fathers of Sabah with the wisdom and foresight had negotiated in the future interests of Sabah before agreeing to form Malaysia in 1963.

At the same time, the Sabah government especially the Umno-BN leaders should insist on compliance of the Federal Constitution by the Federal government and ensure that the 40% net revenue entitlement is returned to Sabah in Budget 2017.

It is in the best interests of Sabah that the 40% net revenue derived from Sabah and other additional revenues assigned to Sabah be returned. Article 112D even provides for the consideration of the needs of Sabah on review of the 40% entitlement.   Surely, it cannot be disputed that Sabah as the poorest State in the nation needs the 40% entitlement.

To cap it all, all the Members of Parliament and Members of the Sabah Legislative Assembly are sworn to protect and uphold the Federal Constitution in their oath before assuming their places in Parliament and the State Assembly respectively. Budget 2017 will be a golden opportunity for them to uphold and fulfil their oath of office.

If Budget 2017 blatantly disregards and fails to comply with constitutional provisions on revenues payable to Sabah under the Federal Constitution, the basis of Sabah to remain in the Federation of Malaysia will be further broken.

Further, Sabahans should unite to throw out the Umno-BN Federal and Sabah governments in the forthcoming general elections and especially replace the latter with local parties more determined to look after Sabahans’ interests and welfare than a BN government subservient to Umno and Malaya.

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