Tuesday, October 3

State against new federal tourism tax


SIBU: The state government is opposed to the imposition of the new federal tourism tax nationwide.

From Aug 1, hotel customers would be required to pay a nightly tax per room of RM20 for 5-star hotels; RM10 for 4-star hotels; RM5 for 1- to 3-star hotels; and RM2.50 for one, two, and three orchid hotels as well as unrated hotels.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah called the new tourism tax a glaring example of the federal government imposing tax laws in Sarawak without consultation.

“I see the imposition of the tourism tax in Sarawak as well as  introducing  the Tourism Tax Bill without informing the Sarawak state government as going against the spirit of MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963),” he said when contacted yesterday.

Abdul Karim explained that when Malaysia was formed in 1963, matters which come under the purview of the federal government were called Federal List matters, while those under the purview of the state were called State List matters.

“Unfortunately in 1963, tourism was among matters not discussed and it was not placed in either Federal or State List. When a matter is neither in the Federal or State List, the understanding is that it will be treated as being placed in the Residual List, where the matter is to be deliberated and discussed between the state and federal government,” he said.

He opined that the state government must be notified before the new tax is imposed in Sarawak.

“We must respect the wishes of our forefathers who penned the MA1963,” he stressed.

For Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) Sarawak Chapter president Ibrahim Nordin, the implementation of the new tax will result in hotels incurring additional costs such as reprogramming of software and credit card payment facilities, while customers would have to bear additional costs as well.

“There has been no official notification in writing. There was only an engagement session with MAH, Malaysian Association Hotel Owners (Maho) and Malaysian Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA),” he said.

Ibrahim said the new tourism tax is not the one time hotel levy announced by Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz for Peninsular Malaysia effective July 1.

“Hotels will be ‘asked’ to register. At the moment our stand would be not to register despite the enactment of the law,” he said.

Ibrahim said MAH Sarawak Chapter made the decision because hoteliers in the state want their queries over the collection mechanism and unfair playing field due to unlicensed operators to be addressed first.

The new tourism tax, which comes into effect after the passing of the Tourism Tax Bill in Parliament, will be in addition to the goods and services tax (GST) and service charge.

Accommodation premises with less than 10 rooms and homestays registered with the government will be exempted from collecting the tax.