KUCHING: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) rejects the Tourism Tax Bill 2017 and will propose during the next Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council for the Bill to be abolished – should PH form the federal government after the 14th general election (GE14).
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Bill, which was passed in Parliament at 4.57am on
April 6 after a 3.5-hour debate, had shown yet again that Putrajaya failed to craft policies that were sensitive to the economic reality faced by the people.
“Having reviewed the response from various parties on this issue such as the tourism industrial players and hotel operators, members of the public, experts and PKR leaders including those from PKR Sarawak; and taking cognisant of the fact that this tax would further burden the people who are already affected by GST (Goods and Services Tax), I hereby announce that PKR rejects the implementation of the Tourism Tax Act in its current shape and form,” she said yesterday at a press conference in PKR headquarters here where PKR Sarawak chairman Baru Bian and other local leaders of the party were also present.
Dr Wan Azizah also said she would propose for PH to study the various steps to be taken to strengthen the tourism industry, including the proposed drafting of a new Bill that would not only serve the tourism industry and the public well, but is fair and transparent with regard to the distribution of funds collected by respective states.
She further said the chaos arising out of the announcement and subsequent postponement of the tax by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, due to the objection raised by the state government, proved there was no thorough coordination and planning prior to the announcement of the Bill in Parliament.
“Incidents that occurred surrounding the announcement of the Tourism Tax Act 2017 to be enforced must serve as a cautionary tale for both the Tourism and Culture Minister and Putrajaya.
“All Bills should be given sufficient time for effective consultation and engagement with respective stakeholders, and must go through a proper parliamentary committee instead of being hastily debated and passed as in the early hours of April 6, 2017,” she stressed, adding that Putrajaya’s failure was also evident in the withdrawal of the state government from the Malaysia Tourism Board.
Moreover, Dr Wan Azizah pointed out that Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs should have raised the concerns of Sarawakians about the Bill during the debate at the last session of Parliament.