(Subang Jaya, Monday): The 2001 Budget presented by the Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin is another example of the lack of full budget openness, accountability and transparency by not giving Malaysians the whole picture in the government’s public finances.
In the 2000 Budget re-presented by Daim in the Dewan Rakyat on February 25, 2000, the government estimated that the revenue from petroleum and gas royalties for this year would be RM860 million. However, in the 2001 Budget presented by Daim eight months later on 27th October 2001, the revised revenue estimates from petroleum and gas royalties had skyrocketted by 166 per cent to RM2,284 million.
Daim should give a full and satisfactory explanation as to how the revenue estimates from petroleum and gas royalty for this year could jump 166% from RM860 million to RM2,284 million in eight months, as the official explanation given so far that the increase was because of higher export earnings is not acceptable.
According to the 2001 budget, national export earnings of crude petroleum for the year is now expected to increase by 27.7 per cent to RM11.88 billion (as compared to the original estimate of RM9.24 billion) while earnings from liquefied natural gas is expected to increase by 52.8 per cent to RM9.70 billion (as compared to the original estimate of RM6.02 billion).
Such hikes in oil prices would mean sharp increases in the petroleum and oil royalty but ranging at most from 27 to 52 per cent, but it cannot explain for the 166 per cent increase in oil royalty.
I believe that the 166 per cent increase in petroleum and gas royalty in the revised estimates for this year in a matter of six months is because of the ill-gotten gains of the Federal government as a result of the illegal hijacking of the five per cent oil royalty belonging to the Terengganu state government.
In the past, the five per cent oil royalty to the Terengganu state government had been paid directly by Petronas, and this amount never appeared in the Federal accounts.
However, with the illegal hijacking of the five per cent oil royalty from the Terengganu state government, this five per cent oil royalty will be a new item in the Federal accounts and will go to increase revised estimates for petroleum and gas royalty by 166 per cent.
Daim should without any ado disclose the whole and true picture
of government accounts, as the national budget should not be used as a
document to hide illegal and unauthorised items, whether it be the hijacking
of Terengganu’s five per cent oil royalty or other improper expenditures.