LABUAN: Newly appointed National Consumer Foundation (NCF) Labuan branch chairman Dato Derex Chan has called on the Federal Territories Ministry not to abruptly increase the assessment fees in the area due to the present economic conditions.
Instead, he proposed that increment of assessment rates for commercial, residential and industrial sectors be carried out on staggered basis to spare the local populace from heavy financial burden.
“Presently, the economy in Labuan is not so favourable as compared to the booming days years ago. The private business sector and dwellers are now experiencing financial difficulties,” Derex said.
Early this month, Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce (LCCC) chairman Datuk Wong Kim Yii described the more than 100 per cent assessment rates hike next year as thoughtless and unsympathetic.
“Despite having appealed to the Labuan Corporation (LC) not to increase the rates as this is not the right time, it had ignored the appeal and went ahead to review the rebates with unreasonable payment amounts,” Wong had said on November 7.
He said the new rates would leave some businessmen with only two options.
“One is to fold up their business and the other is to increase the prices and pass the higher cost of doing business to the consumers”, Wong stressed.
On his part, Derex said he is also worried on the financial capability of the ordinary ratepayers especially kampung people as a result of the sluggish economy of Labuan.
“We are not against increasing the assessment rates because we understand the position of the government. What we are asking is for the increment to be imposed on a staggered basis ,” he said.
He said many businessmen in the island are now struggling to make ends meet and same goes to the local populace.
Both Derex and Wong also noted that many warehouses, storage yards and residential houses are vacant with owners having no income from such properties.
Both leaders agreed that instead of ‘squeezing’ ratepayers, the Labuan Corporation should be more prudent in its spending and cut down on wastage.
Based on the new valuation report, a former cinema now used as a duty-free shop, which paid RM3,690 in assessment rate this year, has to pay RM14,346 next year, and a semi-detached house which paid RM468 this year will have to pay RM984 next year.
Meanwhile, NCF East Malaysia chairman David Chan hopes Labuan Corporation will seriously consider the observation aired by Derex and Wong for the benefit of all.
He agreed that the hike in the assessment rates for the commercial, residential and industrial sectors in the island does not reflect the present gloomy situation.