MoF’s Siti Zauyah, MoEA’s Zakiah are new Petronas board members from Oct 15
By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic BLOOMBERG
The government may consider selling a stake in the national oil company, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), to raise fund for the next budget.
Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who will present the Budget 2019 on Nov 2, will be tabling the national expenditure plan for his 23rd time with a national debt of RM1 trillion, or about 80% of the national GDP.
He said the Cabinet has not come to a conclusion whether Petronas will be listed upon the tabling of the budget.
“We haven’t decided. We will let you know when the time comes,” the PM told the media after chairing the Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.
It is estimated that if the national oil company is listed, it could have a market value of up to RM800 billion, depending on the valuation and taking into account that Petronas made a net profit of RM46.6 billion in 2017.
Disposing of a 25% stake in Petronas could raise RM150 billion to RM200 billion — almost three quarters of the previous year’s budget of RM280.25 billion.
Any additional income would not only help the government to alleviate its financial burden, but will compensate for the RM21 billion loss of income from the zero rating of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Saudi Arabia is exploring a similar plan with its national oil firm, Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabian Oil Co).
The oil-dependent kingdom was said to be interested in selling a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco via a listing exercise. However, the listing plan has been delayed.
Global crude oil prices are now trading higher at an average of US$80 per barrel compared to the Budget 2018 forecast of US$52 (RM215.62) a barrel.
Dr Mahathir said the government will study the volatility in crude oil prices before deciding on the need to undertake hedging marks.
“We have to study if this (price action) is a constant trend or just a movement of price,” he said.
The PM’s Office (PMO) also announced new board members to Petronas last Friday. They are Datuk Siti Zauyah Md Desa and Zakiah Jaafar.
Siti Zauyah is currently the deputy secretary general at the Ministry of Finance (MoF), while Zakiah is the macroeconomy director at the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA).
Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz, a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, has been appointed Petronas’ CFO to replace Datuk Manharlal Ratilal.
All appointments are effective Oct 15, 2018, a PMO statement noted.