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Sabah & Sarawak to find solutions to tourism tax dispute

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun

KUALA LUMPUR – June 14, 2017: Sabah and Sarawak have pledged to work together to find fair solutions to the implementation of the now contentious tourism tax. 

At the same time, both governments maintain that there was little or no consultation with them prior to the law on the tax being put before parliament.

In a statement today, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said Sabah had objected to the proposal last year and had duly informed the relevant federal authorities. 

“Sarawak too objected and this was conveyed to our chief minister (Datuk Seri Musa Aman) during Datuk Abang Johari Tun Openg’s first visit as chief minister to Kota Kinabalu (on March 16). 

“Both Sabah and Sarawak agreed to work together to have a common stand on the proposed tax.”

The Tourism and Culture Ministry had in September last year announced the plan to impose a tourism services fee on anyone who stays at a hotel or service apartment.  The move is aimed at collecting revenue to be used to promote the tourism industry. 

Masidi had last year stated that it was too soon for Sabah to impose such a levy as tourism in the state was just recovering from several low points, which included security breaches along its east coast.

The Tourism Tax Bill was later tabled by Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz last April and passed by a majority vote.  It will be enforced next month.

Masidi said the law has created new dynamics and a new challenge on the part of the state governments. 

On another note, he said the withdrawal of Sarawak’s representative from the Malaysia Tourism Board (MTB) has been wrongly interpreted as one of being opting out of the tourism tax regime. 

“Many suggested Sabah should follow suit. A withdrawal from the MTB does not equal to opting out of the provisions of the new tax law, nor does it amount to rejecting it. 

“MTB does not decide tourism policies or laws relating to tourism. It is the marketing or promotional arm of the ministry,” he pointed out. 

The tax will be charged and levied on a a person staying at any accommodation premises made available by an operator at fixed rates. 

The rates are RM20 per night for five-star accommodation, RM10 for four-star, RM5 for one to three-star and RM2.50 for non-rated accommodation.

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Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

A budding journalist. Aside of struggling to understand Malaysian political scenario, she is inspired to study and fight for women's emancipation. Above the rest; she simply loves her nation.