Dr M raises questions how RM253.b from Petronas was spent

Written by Lam Jian Wyn, The Edge

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has raised questions over how the RM253.6 billion, which the federal government had received from Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) over the past six years, were spent.

The fourth Malaysian Prime Minister said in his blog chedet.co.cc on July 3 that the national oil company had been paying out in dividends since 1976 and that year, the government received RM300 million.

The amount increased to RM2 billion in 1981. By 2003, it paid RM15.6 billion to the Federal Government. The total from 1981 to 2003 was RM168.8 billion in 22 years.

“From then onwards it increased from RM19 billion in 2004 to RM67.8 billion in 2009. The total for six years is RM253.6 billion.

“I am sure the Government had spent the money wisely. It would be interesting to know what the RM253.6 billion was spent on,” he said.

Dr Mahathir stepped down as PM in 2003 and his deputy, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as PM until early 2009.

Dr Mahathir remarks were related to a June 25 announcement by Petronas that it had paid RM30 billion in dividends to the federal government for the financial year ended March 31, 2009. This was despite a 14% decline in net profit to RM52.5 billion due to lower crude oil prices and higher operating costs.

The RM30-billion payout included a special dividend of RM6 billion which was declared in the last calendar year. In FY08, Petronas paid out RM24 billion.

Apart from the dividends, Petronas also paid RM29.4 billion taxes, RM6.2 billion royalties and RM2.2 billion export duties in FY09. In total, Petronas contributed RM67.8 billion to the federal government, compared with RM56.8 billion in FY08.