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Mr. PM –Prove Your Concern for Sabah Sarawak

Kota Kinabalu:  “If the Prime Minister means what he says and says what he means about his concerns for the people of Sabah and Sarawak, then Sabah and Sarawak should be exempted from the price hikes in petroleum products, sugar, electricity and the intended Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other further intended hikes”said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief, in a press statement in response to the PM’s statement that government would do everything possible to minimise their impact on the people.

The PM and his advisers obviously have lost touch with the common people and the ordinary man and woman on the streets as far as the cost of living and the causes of the rising costs are concerned.
There are clearly demonstrated by the PM’s own speeches and the announcement of the setting up of a Laboratory on Living Cost under the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) of the PM Department.   If the government needs such a Lab, it only shows that the government is not facing reality and is either sleeping, day-dreamingor in another world for rich people only.   Earlier, the PM had announced that he always listened to the people and thatthe government would do everything possible to minimise the higher toll rates and electricity tariffs on the people.

Ask any common people and any 12-year old kid and they will tell you that the recent hikes by the government had contributed to their higher costs of living.  And the costs will be further increased with the forthcoming electricity hikes and the imposition of GST.

If the federal government had performed better in managing the national economy and rein in the national debt with reduction in unnecessary and unwarranted spending as well as reduction of wastages and corruption, the recent price hikes could all have been avoided.

In Sabah, the recent 20 sen hike in petrol and diesel prices have caused havoc to Sabahans with wholesale across the board price increases, in many instances of more than 10%.   Higher sugar prices had also contributed another round of price increase in related products.

The 15% hike in electricity tariffs effective 1st January 2014 that was ironically announced by a federal Minister from Sabah is expected to cause another round of price hikes.   Before the people can recover, the 6% GST scheduled to be implemented in 2015 will bring untold damage to the ordinary people in Sabah and Sarawak.   For Sarawakians at least, they will be spared the electricity hike thanks to the Sarawak government’s control and refusal to agree to the hike in electricity tariffs for Sarawak.  In that sense, the Sarawak government is more caring of Sarawakians than the federal government.

Before irreparable damage is done to the Sabah economy and the daily lives of Sabahans and Sarawakians, the federal government need to seriously consider and implement exemption of Sabah and Sarawak from the recent price hikes as well as the coming price hikes and the GST.   Already, Sabahans are complaining that GST will mean “Gasak Sampai Tulang”, nothing else is spared.

There is every justification to exempt Sabah and Sarawak from such unwarranted price hikes and GST imposition.   If the Prime Minister is sincere and caring of the welfare of Sabahans and Sarawakians, the exemption is only a nominal way of repaying the contributions of Sabah and Sarawak, both politically and financially.   

The Umno/BN federal government owes its current power and position in Putrajaya due to the seats contributed by Sabah and Sarawak BN.   Without them, there would have been a new federal government and a new Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Financially in 2012, RM17.88 billion in oil revenue were siphoned by Petronas from Sabah and another RM35 billion from Sarawak.   In 2014, Sabah will contribute another RM26.6 billion to Petronas and the federal government and rising to RM50 billion in 2015/2016.   Sarawak will contribute another RM45 billion in 2014 alone.

Both Sabah and Sarawak are rich nations but their people are robbed of their wealth and being made to be the poorest and second poorest in Malaysia.    Therefore, as a small gesture and token, Sabahans and Sarawakians deserve to be exempted from the recent hikes and the imposition of GST.

If the federal government refuses to exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the GST, the federal government should return 40% of the net revenue earned from the GST to the Sabah and Sarawak governments in accordance with the Tenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“And I strongly urge the Sabah and Sarawak governments to seek the return of this 40% net revenue from the GST collected” added Dr. Jeffrey.

With this 40% GST returned to Sabah and Sarawak, the Sabah and Sarawak governments should consider issuing GST exemption coupons to Sabahans and Sarawakians granting certain exemptions or deductions on GST to be collected from them.   This will in a big way assist the people in Sabah and Sarawak in getting some relief from the burdensome and potentially devastating GST.

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