Sabah to work with S’wak in finding fair solutions to tourism tax issue

Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah shares the same view with Sarawak that there have been little or no consultations with both state governments prior to the enactment of the law on tourism tax, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun.

“Sabah will continue to work with Sarawak to find common grounds in our engagement with the federal government in our endeavour to find fair solutions to the issue,” he said in a statement today.

He also explained that the withdrawal of Sarawak’s representative from the Board of Directors of Malaysia Tourism Board (MTB) has been wrongly interpreted as opting out of the tourism tax regime.

“Many suggested Sabah should follow suit. However, withdrawal from MTB does not equal to opting out of the provisions of the new Act 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 of Tourism and Culture,” he said.

Masidi pointed out that the tourism tax was proposed by the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture last year (2016).

The Sabah state government objected to the proposal and has accordingly informed the relevant authority at the federal level, he said.

“Our reasons for objecting the proposed tax among others were underlined in a press statement I made and duly reported by the local press. The state government of Sarawak too objected to the proposal, which was conveyed to our Chief Minister during YAB Datuk Amar Abang Johari’s first visit to Kota Kinabalu as Chief Minister.

“Both the state governments of Sabah and Sarawak agreed to work together to have common stand on the proposed tourism tax. Nevertheless, the federal government proceeded to enact law to impose levy (tourism tax) on all tourists, which was passed by Dewan Rakyat recently,” he disclosed.

According to Masidi, the passing of the Tourism Tax Act 2017 to impose tourism tax has created new dynamics and a new challenge on the part of the state government.

“The state government is going to discuss and decide our stand on the Tourism Tax Act in the next Cabinet meeting,” he said.

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