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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sabah wants tourism tax ‘fine-tuned’, invites Sarawak’s input

Sabah minister Masidi Manjun says a joint memorandum will be handed by both chief ministers to the prime minister, who is also the finance minister.
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PETALING JAYA: Although the Sabah state cabinet recognises the merits of the new tourism tax, it says there is a need for further deliberation and clarification on some key issues to ensure that the state tourism industry benefits from it.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said the state’s tourism ministry has been entrusted to discuss some key issues of the Tourism Tax Act 2017 and to report back to the chief minister and state cabinet on its findings and proposals.
“In the spirit of cooperation with Sarawak and consistent with the previous understanding to come up with a joint stand on the tourism tax, Sabah is inviting the Sarawak tourism ministry to discuss and deliberate on some pertinent issues of the tourism act,” he said in a statement yesterday.
“The outcome of the discussion and deliberation would then be submitted to the respective chief minister/state cabinet in a form of a draft memorandum to the federal government for its consideration.
“The joint memorandum will be handed by both chief ministers to the prime minister, who is also the finance minister,” he said, adding that the tourism tax was under the purview of the finance ministry.
His statement followed a meeting of the Sabah state cabinet to discuss the tourism tax yesterday.
Sarawak had also discussed the tourism tax issue at its state cabinet meeting, held on the same day.
According to The Borneo Post, Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state accepted the implementation of the tax but wanted its share of tax collected to be channelled directly to the state government.
“This will be a win-win formula, since the allocation will hopefully bring benefit to Sarawak in terms of promoting tourism.
“As long as the tax collection is not for other purposes, such as paying off debts, then it is a good thing,” he was quoted as saying.
In the report, he also said the state government had no choice but to accept the implementation of the tax since it was already passed in Parliament.
However, he voiced doubt that the tax would be implemented on July 1 as planned, as it needed to be further refined.
“There is not much time left,” he was reported as saying.
Meanwhile, Masidi said Sabah wished to contribute ideas and proposals to fine-tune “certain provisions of the act” to strengthen the tourism industry.
“The industry has been a very resilient industry and, at times, the saviour of our economy during challenging times.
“In the case of Sabah, it’s the only major industry that is controlled by locals in terms of employment. It’s crucial that the industry is well managed and regulated.” -FMT

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