PETALING JAYA: An economist has asked Putrajaya to reconsider his plans to collect about 100 billion RM in Petronas dividend payments as a result of a US rating agency's decision to reduce the giant's rating from stable to negative .
Barjoyai Bardai of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak said that although Moody's vision was based on the plans of the government for Petronas and not the dividends that had already been paid, it borne weight because it came from a reputable rating agency.
He told FMT that Putrajaya might revise its plans, given that the 2019 budget was based on a conservative value of USD 70 per barrel and included the introduction of four new taxes and an increase in existing taxes.
He recommended that the government adopt a "wait-and-see" approach to determine the extra revenue it could collect from rising oil prices and taxes instead of relying on Petronas dividend payments.
Former Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani said in the past that an increase of only 1 USD per barrel in the global oil price will make the government earn an increase in revenues of 300 million RM per year.
Barjoyai said the government should talk to Moody's and explain that the plan to collect larger dividends from Petronas is not put in stone.
"On the other hand, the reduction of Petronas' prospects could affect its chances of securing the financing of huge projects in the future," he added.
Maldive University of Malaysia Abu Sofian Yaacob of Kelantan said it is normal for Petronas credit ratings to sink after the 2019 budget, where Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng drew attention to dividend payments.
Abu, who is from the faculty of entrepreneurship and business, said the government sends signals that Petronas, like a goose linking golden eggs, will be forced to give more.
"If the oil price will not grow in the near future or if there will be other revenues for Petronas, the outlook will remain.
"My advice to the government is to revise the plan and try to obtain income from other sources or governed companies."
Yesterday, former Prime Minister Najib Razak warned that the country's credit rating might be affected by Moody's decision to downplay Petronas's vision.
Moody's said the rating action is due to the government announcement that Petronas will pay dividends worth 26 billion RM in 2018 and 54 billion RM (including a special dividend of 30 billion RM) in 2019.
On November 2, Premier Mahathir Mohamad said Petronas could afford to contribute a special $ 30 billion dividend to the federal government in 2019 due to high oil prices.