Pakatan Rakyat proposed the oil royalty caucus last week, following PM Najib Abdul Razak's announcement that the federal government would make 'goodwill payments' from offshore oil operations to the PAS-ruled state of Kelantan from next year.
This saw opposition from Pakatan representatives, especially those from Kelantan, who said the federal government should pay the oil royalty and not make a goodwill payment to the state.
Veteran Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has agreed to head the caucus to deliberate on the issue of petroleum and liquefied gas royalty, said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
This is a good step forward to ensure that states enjoy a share of their resources. The monopoly of resources under the federal government is not only undemocratic but also inefficient.
State governments should be given more resources to plan and implement their own socio-economic development. As the moment, resource rich states such as Trengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak have registered high poverty rates.
Central planning has resulted in uneven and unfair development between states which are closer to the federal government and enjoy a closer political relationship with the federal lawmakers than states which are more distant.
This situation has to change. Monopoly of resources under the federal government breeds corruption. This was made worse due to a lack of a check-and-balance mechanism to ensure transparency and accountability in public spending.
I hope that states will be able to get a larger share of the direct taxes too. It does not make any sense to allocate less than 5 percent of the total tax collection to a state.
I had urged several PR leaders to push for greater power sharing and decentralisation from the BN federal government.
We, the voters, will have to do the same too. States must be given a larger share of their resources. Central planning has failed to deliver a just and equitable development to all states.
I would like to commend Tengku Razaleigh for his willingness to cross the partisan line to ensure there is fairness for all Malaysians.