KUCHING, Dec 24 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) will soon be tasked with managing a domestic gas business that is now placed under the Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas).
He said Petros, apart from being vested with the regulatory power over state’s oil and gas resources by the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958, is to ensure the state’s participation in the upstream and downstream activities of the oil and gas industry.
“The next few years will see more involvement of Petros as more investments are expected in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries in the state,” he said in his Christmas Eve’s message.
The chief minister also stressed that the state will continue to introduce new revenue streams to fund its development programmes.
He said the state has already started charging 5 per cent sales tax on oil and gas products for export that brings home a yearly revenue of about RM3 billion, beginning this year.
“Starting next year, we are also charging a one per cent sales tax on aluminium products for export much in the manner we are currently charging the same quantum on palm oil products,” he said, adding the revenue from the sales tax will be channelled back to the people in the form of infrastructure and utilities projects.
Abang Johari stressed that what the state government has been doing over the last two years was to make Sarawak economically strong.
“With a land size almost as big as Peninsular Malaysia and blessed with abundant resources, the state has tremendous potential to be an economic powerhouse, not only in Malaysia, but also in the region.
“We have to invest heavily in upgrading our infrastructure to harness this potential,” he said, adding that the importance of good road connectivity cannot be overemphasized in the effort to spur economic growth.
He stressed that without good road infrastructure, the movement of goods and people from one place to another cannot be expected to be easy.
“A number of large bridge projects have been launched this year across the major rivers to plug the missing links in our connectivity system.
“When all these bridges are completed, road travel from Sematan to Miri, Limbang and Lawas will be so much easier. Good connectivity is a pre-requisite to a strong economy,” he added.
Abang Johari stressed that the agricultural transformation programme also hinges on good infrastructure, especially in the hinterland areas.
The chief minister said he is grateful that Sarawakians of different religious and racial backgrounds are also sharing in the fun and joy of Christmas as a manifestation of their deep respect for each other’s beliefs, customs and traditions.
“Let us not be distracted by events and happenings outside Sarawak that tends to divide us,” he said.