KOTA KINABALU: There is no need to devise a new formula for Sabah’s 40% special revenue rights grant which is expected to be settled within 12 months, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
The Deputy Chief Minister said a resolution to the long-standing 40% special grant to Sabah was expected to be reached within the coming year, and that there was already an existing mechanism in the Federal constitution to see this through.
“The Federal Constitution already provides an explicit mechanism for this, as stated in Article 112D, 112C, and 112C(6), along with Para 24 of the IGC Report,” he said in a statement, Monday (July 24).
“The information or data necessary for these calculations can and should be provided by the Federal agencies such as the Finance Ministry and the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (LHDN).
“The framework is there – what we need now is the appropriate data,” Kitingan said.
He also suggested that Sarawak adopt the same formula as Sabah as uniformity would not only bring consistency but also speed up the settlement process and prevent further delays.
On the grant that was expected to be settled soon, he said the decision was made by the Technical Committee of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, which agreed to adopt this resolution.
Kitingan emphasised that resolving this issue, pending for the past 58 years, was crucial to ensuring that Sabah receives its rightful revenue rights entitlement.
Representing the Sabah government in the MA63 committee, he affirmed that the Federal Government, under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s leadership, had pledged to deliver on the outstanding constitutional rights.
“The people of Sabah have waited over half a century for this moment, and it is our obligation to ensure that the wait does not extend further,” he said.
Kitingan acknowledged and appreciated the interim RM300mil special grant allocation from Putrajaya, but was quick to underline that this should only serve as a temporary solution.
“The interim allocation, though substantial, is only a part of what is rightfully due to Sabah.
“The RM300mil is indeed a positive step, but our ultimate goal is the actualisation of the 40% net revenue issue,” he said.
He clarified that the acceptance of the RM300mil grant from the federal government should not be misconstrued as Sabah relinquishing its rights to the 40% net revenue.
On the contrary, Kitingan emphasised, it is a stopgap measure while the central issue continues to be pursued.
“The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government remains committed to safeguarding the rights and interests of Sabah.
“The opposition’s allegations that GRS has caused Sabah to lose its rights to the 40% are baseless and a continuous assault on our administration.
“We call upon all parties, especially the federal government, to cooperate and ensure that this matter is resolved within the stipulated time frame,” he said.
Kitingan said it was in the best interest of the people of Sabah that Sabah secure its rightful share of revenue, protect the state’s autonomy, and continue developing the economy for the well-being of its citizens.
Recently, Sabah rights campaigner Datuk James Ligunjang had called for the state to start playing by the book on its 40% entitlement.
He said the issue of Sabah’s 40% entitlement was a long-standing grievance that had remained unresolved for the past 60 years since the state joined in the formation of Malaysia in 1963.
In joining the formation of the federation of Malaysia, Sabah was promised a 40% entitlement from the federal government, he said.
“However, this promise has never been fully fulfilled, and it is now time to address this matter and ensure that the entitlement is granted without any compromises,” Ligunjang said.
He said some of the consequences of this unfulfilled promise were inadequate infrastructure development, underfunded education and healthcare systems, and a lack of economic opportunities for the people of Sabah.
The state’s potential had not been fully realised due to the lack of equitable resource allocation and this had resulted in a disparity between Sabah and the more developed states within Malaysia, he said.
– The Star