(Updated 4:29pm 13 Jan 2009)
KUALA TERENGGANU, 13 Jan 2009: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today the people of Terengganu can possibly enjoy oil royalty of RM3 billion annually should there be a rise in the market price of fuel.
He said the Terengganu government should utilise the oil royalty well and, at the same time, the people of the state should be thankful for it.
Najib, who is also the finance minister, said the pledge of the federal government to return the oil royalty to the people of Terengganu had been fulfilled.
“I have handed over a cheque for RM408.6 million in oil royalty to (Terengganu) Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said. This reflects our sincerity.
“Next year, if the fuel price rises, the people of Terengganu will be more fortunate. They will get between RM1.6 billion and RM3 billion. Just imagine the good fortune of the people of Terengganu coming as God’s blessings. The other east coast states, Kelantan and Pahang, do not receive this reward enjoyed by the people of Terengganu,” he said.
Najib spoke at the presentation of excellence awards of the Kuala Terengganu City Council. Also present at the event were his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the menteri besar and Kuala Terengganu mayor Datuk Mat Razali Kassim.
The deputy prime minister said the federal government had never questioned the Terengganu government on how it spent the oil royalty.
“We must use well what we get. Praise be to God. The menteri besar has informed me what he wanted to do with the money. My request to him was to use the money for the well-being of the people.
“I asked him to adhere to the principle of development projects; they must be people-friendly. Implement whatever brings prosperity and benefit for the people.
“This is additional good fortune. We will not question the Terengganu government so long as it does things for the people’s benefit,” he said.
Najib said that to ensure that the Terengganu government income did not decrease when the revenue from oil was no longer available, the government had in principle approved the establishment of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) to handle investment of the oil royalty with a launching capital of RM10 billion.
He said the TIA, a brainchild of the Agong, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, who is the Sultan of Terengganu, would be managed by professionals.
He said the authority would utilise the oil royalty to make investments in the country and abroad through the bond market to ensure continuity of income for the state government.
Najib said the government wanted to see Terengganu develop like the west coast states and that many changes had been brought about since 2004 and that the transformation process would continue.
He cited the upgrading of the Sultan Mahmud International Airport to enable Boeing 747 aircraft to use the facility as one of the changes, saying pilgrims could now fly from Kuala Terengganu direct to Jeddah.
“God willing, the new highway will be ready soon. We fulfil our promises,” he said. — Bernama