How did you spend $104b in oil money?

by

DR M TO GOVT:
How did you spend $104b in oil money?
MALAYSIA’S Petronas oil company has paid out RM253.6 billion ($104 billion) to the government over the last six years.
05 July 2009

MALAYSIA’S Petronas oil company has paid out RM253.6 billion ($104 billion) to the government over the last six years.

Petronas adviser Dr Mahathir Mohamad had one question: What was the money spent for?

On a blog posting on his website, the former premier said Petronas has been paying dividends, taxes, royalty and export duties to the government since 1976, after it was set up as the national custodian for fossil fuels, reported liberal news portal Malaysian Insider.

Petronas, the country’s only Fortune 500 company, paid RM300 million in 1976 – two years after it was incorporated.

This figure rose to RM2 billion in 1981, when he assumed office, he wrote.

From 1981 to 2003, the total RM168.8 billion for the 22 years that marked Dr Mahathir’s tenure as the country’s fourth prime minister.

He said: ‘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.’

It is not known if the figures were adjusted for foreign exchange fluctuations as oil is usually quoted in US dollars.

Obvious swipe

He said: ‘I am sure the government had spent the money wisely. It would be interesting to know what the RM253.6 billion was spent on.’

This was an obvious swipe at former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who took office from him in 2003 but retired last April.

Dr Mahathir’s remarks come after last week’s Petronas announcement that it had paid RM30 billion in dividends to the federal government for the financial year ended 31 March 2009, said liberal news portal Malaysian Insider.

But according to another liberal news portal, Malaysiakini, Dr Mahathir’s critics had also demanded to know how the money contributed by Petronas had been spent during his tenure as PM.

In 2003, when Dr Mahathir was appointed Petronas adviser by then-PM Abdullah, an opposition leader said it was ‘conflict of interests’.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s deputy leader Syed Husin Ali had argued that Dr Mahathir was unfit to be a Petronas adviser as the oil company had funded some of Malaysia’s mega-projects during the his premiership.

Among those mega-projects funded by Petronas during the Mahathir era included the Twin Towers, Putrajaya and Proton City.

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