KOTA KINABALU, Dec 1 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor today said that the state’s 40 per cent revenue claim is still ongoing despite the recent state grant review conducted with the previous federal government.
Hajiji in his winding-up speech at the state assembly today said the agreed special grant rate of RM125.6 million last April was only an “interim arrangement” and that there was a need to gazette it as a review of the special grant in order to receive the payment.
“I am well aware that the current increased rate to RM125.6 million is still far lower than what Sabah should be getting based on the federal constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“I wish to stress here that the recent hike in the rate was accepted without prejudice and on the ground that it is an interim arrangement,” he said.
Hajiji stressed that accepting the RM125.6 million interim payment over the next five years until 2026 would not affect the state’s ongoing claims on the 40 per cent net revenue owed.
He said de-gazetting the review would mean putting development plans on hold, including the construction of some 1,500 affordable housing units under the Sabah Maju Jaya plan.
“On the same note, we will also demand backdated payment since there have been no new reviews since 1973,” he said.
Hajiji, who is also the state finance minister said that he was confident that the federal government would fulfil its promise to negotiate, especially under the new “unity government” administration.
“I have voiced Sabah’s stance during the MA63 special council meeting to continue to fight for the reinstatement of the 40 per cent return of revenue as stipulated in the agreement.
“I have also met with Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) and brought this matter up with him. He has agreed to consider our demands seriously,” he said.
Earlier, Moyog assemblyman Datuk Darell Leiking had asked whether it was possible for the state to go back to the original formula of this 40 per cent net revenue payment instead of the interim payment.
Leiking had said that the timing was apt under the new government.
Last April, Hajiji and then prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob issued a joint statement on the interim arrangement regarding the special grant on April 14, saying that the RM125.6 million payment was an interim arrangement while negotiations and calculation of the formula were ongoing.
They also mentioned that any new formula would be backdated till 2022.