Archive for March 1st, 2017

Norway’s model of prudence in oil wealth

The Monitor’s Editorial Board
Christian Science Monitor

As more nations set up funds for the money earned from natural resources or exports, many also adopt principles of transparency and accountability – and a concern for future generations. They should look to Norway, which runs the largest ‘sovereign wealth fund.’

FEBRUARY 28, 2017 —In about 20 countries, revenue from oil drilling accounts for more than 10 percent of the economy. This natural wealth has long been a tempting source of easy cash for a government’s short-term needs or budgetary holes. Yet as oil prices have fallen, more petroleum-producing nations are taking the long view. They are saving or investing the money to benefit future generations – and to prepare for the day the oil wells run dry.

In recent years, the world has seen a rapid rise in the number of government-run kitties, or “sovereign wealth funds.” In all, more than 75 of these funds now hold $7.4 trillion. Most sock away money earned from natural resources. Others are set up by big exporters, such as Singapore, to keep their foreign earnings for future needs.

With so much money, the funds can be easy targets for politicians. Yet even as the funds have multiplied, many have adopted principles, set down nearly a decade ago by the International Monetary Fund, to be transparent and accountable in how the money is invested and spent.

It also helps that the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is also a model. Norway, which is Western Europe’s largest oil producer and one of the world’s largest natural gas exporters, has put aside more than $900 billion in its fund since the 1990s. To put that in perspective, the fund owns more than 1 percent of the world’s traded equity shares. Its purpose is to shield the country’s economy from price fluctuations in oil and to support government savings. Read the rest of this entry »

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Most significant thing about King Salman of Saudi Arabia’s four-day visit is not what was said or done by the Saudis, but what was not said about the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal bank accounts

King Salman of Saudi Arabia’s four-day visit to Malaysia has ended.

The most significant thing about King Salman’s visit to Malaysia is not what was said or done by the Saudis, including the signing of the US$7 billion (RM31 billion) agreement by Saudi Aramco to take a 50 per cent stake in Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project in Pengerang but what was not said about the RM2.6 billion “donation” in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Three days ago, a “kangkong” professor said that the Saudi King’s visit vindicated the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the RM2.6 billion donation in his personal bank accounts.

He said: “Previously, there was a leader who said that even a mad Arab would not give such a colossal sum. But the presence of King Salman is sufficient to prove Najib was telling the truth that the RM2.6 billion was a donation from the Saudi royal family.”

It is fortunate that this “kangkong” professor did not end up as a judge, as no sane or rational person could understand his “perverse illogic”.

The argument that King Salman would not have set foot in Malaysia if Najib had “slandered” the Saudi royal family does not hold water, for how can King Salman omit an OIC country like Malaysia in a month-long Asian tour, covering six other countries, viz Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China, Maldives and Jordan – four of which are members of the Organisation of Islamic States (OIC)?

What was most conspicuous in Salman’s visit is the Saudi Arabian silence and refusal to confirm that the RM2.6 billion in Najib’s private banking accounts came from the Saudi royal family. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Khaled Nordin to move a special motion at the forthcoming Johor State Assembly to declare corruption as the No. 1 enemy in the state – to demonstrate Johor is not competing with Sabah to be kleptocratic states in Malaysia

I am disappointed that the Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin had not made use of his visit to Gelang Patah constituency yesterday to address the “political earthquake” in Johor with a comprehensive statement on what anti-corruption initiatives the Johor State Government has taken following the MACC arrest of six persons, including the son and a special officer of a senior State Exco Member over multi-million ringgit corruption in land transactions in the state – and the arrest of a seventh person yesterday.

Last Friday, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) seized 21 luxury cars, five high performance bikes and RM500,000 in cash, as well as frozen 45 accounts with over RM15.5 million in them, in a case involving bribery and abuses linked to real-estate in Johor.

Six individuals, including Ahmad Fauzan Hatim Abd Latif, the eldest son of Johor Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Abd Latif Bandi and his special officer Muhammad Idzuan Jamalludin, were arrested. A seventh was arrested yesterday.

Of course, this is peanuts when compared to the Sabah Watergate corruption raids last October, where MACC seized more than RM114 million in cash and accounts, 19.3 kg of gold jewellery worth about RM3.64 million, some 97 designer ladies handbags worth RM500,000, nine luxury vehicles and some 127 land titles from the Director and Deputy Director of Sabah Water Department.

Malaysia is ridiculed worldwide as a “global kleptocracy” – and Johore seems to be competing with Sabah to be “kleptocratic states” in Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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