PETALING JAYA (June 17, 2008): by Rathi Ramanathan and Bernard Cheah
Opposition politicians today charged that Petronas' 84-page 2007 annual report available on its official website does not reveal adequate details and the public deserved full diclosure.
Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Eng Guan, a trained accountant, said: "The report only gives a snapshot view and detailed expenditure is not made transparent. We want to know whether unecessary expenditure like lavish banquets and private jets had been spent.
"DAP has been pressing for detailed accounts since 1986. The annual report was only made available on the Petronas website three years ago."
Petronas chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Merican was reported today as saying Petronas has been publishing its annual report for the past 18 years and is easily available. This was in response to queries by various quarters both Opposition and Barisan Nasional that the national petroleum corporation's accounts be made public.
Parti Keadilan Raykat (PKR) treasurer William Leong, who is also Selayang MP, also expressed similar concerns. "We know that a sizeable amount is given to the government but we would like to know how that money has been spent. Even if the money has gone to certain activies like Formula One, we would like the detailed breakdown. Financial details like rescuing Bank Bumiputra have never been disclosed."
Umno Youth vice-chief and Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin was also reported over the weekend calling for Petronas' accounts to be made public. He reportedly said he would raise the issue in Parliament because the public wanted to know why the national oil corporation was unable to absorb the rising cost of fuel despite the profits.
Under the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Petronas is obligated to pay the government taxes, dividends, royalties and duties Over the last 33 years some RM336 billion was channelled back to the government. Hassan was reported saying that for financial year 2007, RM52.3billion or 66.2% of the total profit was paid to the Government as tax, dividends, royalties and export duties. Hassan, has also been reported saying that that it was the governments responsibility to respond to how that money is allocated.
In GEORGE TOWN, Lim lashed out at Petronas directors, calling on them to stop living and behaving “like kings”.
"Theublic needed to know how many private jets and expensive cars the company’s directors and top management had bought and used. hile everyone else is suffering during the current financial difficulty, they are enjoying themselves,” he added. "It's very un-Malaysian."
He said the directors should instead let the national oil company share its profits with the public during this trying period in the nation’s history.
"Why is money not channelled to the masses?” he said. “As long as Petronas does not share its profit, it is working against national interest."
Lim spoke to reporters after witnessing the signing ceremony between Axon and SAP on SAP Education Partnership here.
"Petronas must realise that there is mounting public anger against it. We did not hear in the past of people boycotting Petronas," he said, noting a growing email and SMS campaign asking Malaysians to boycott Petronas stations.
Lim said the financial statement in the report on Petronas' website was not exactly public.
"Releasing information in bulk and in general terms does not really throw any light on how the expenses are accounted for," he said.
Lim also queried the RM500 million spent by Petronas to maintain the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra of which more than 90% are foreign musicians.
"Who authorised you to spend the money? Are you accountable to yourself or to the prime minister?" he asked.