SARAWAK government is urged to emulate Norway in setting up a sovereign wealth fund or Oil Fund using revenue from its petroleum sector.
Datuk Sebastian Ting (SUPP-Piasau) said this can be made possible now following the passing of the Oil Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
“In Sarawak, we have a population of 2.8 million people. Every Sarawakian can have a share in this fund.
“Just look at Norway, which is a major oil producer like Sarawak. Its population of 5.2 million is now enjoying the benefits of this Oil Fund, which was set up in 1990 and surpassed the $1 trillion mark last year,” he told the media when met at the lobby of the State Legislative Assembly building yesterday.
He added that based on news reports, the Oil Fund assets of $1 trillion was worth $195,000 per Norwegian citizen.
“I believe the time is now right for every Sarawakian to enjoy benefits from the state’s own petroleum sector,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) passed the Oil Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to update several provisions in the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958, and to bring the Ordinance in line with the current practices and operations in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, who tabled the Bill, said with the amendments, Sarawak would be able to strengthen its regulatory control over exploration and prospecting for petroleum, which by definition includes natural gas.
On another matter, he said it is the right time for the government to consider allowing conversion of leasehold land to freehold land.
This will give the people especially those living in the urban and sub-urban areas, including the private landowners of agricultural land, with the most complete form of ownership of that land that is in perpetuity, he added.
“The Sarawak people will have no worry about the lease running out and no more financial burden as the owner does not need to pay premium to renew the tenure of lease. I believe this is a fair request for the benefit of all Sarawakians that the government should seriously consider.”