Thursday, 22 June 2017

Channel tax collection back to Sarawak, Abdul Karim says of tourism tax

June 22, 2017

Karim (right) addresses the media as Ik Pahon looks on.

KUCHING: Sarawak accepts the implementation of the tourism tax, but it wants its share of tax collected to be channelled straight to the state government, and not diverted elsewhere.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said this stand has been communicated to the federal government during a recent meeting between Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said based on the outcome of the meeting, the Prime Minister has assured that funds from the tourism tax collection would be distributed between the peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak.

“We want our share from the tourism tax collection to go straight to the state government and not be channeled through other agencies or any other means. 

"This will be a win-win formula, since the allocation will hopefully bring benefit to Sarawak in terms of promoting tourism.

“As long as the tax collection is not for other purposes such as paying off debts, then it is a good thing,” he told a press conference here today.

Also present was the ministry’s permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik.

He said the tourism tax issue was discussed at today’s cabinet meeting, and he added that the state government had no choice but to accept its implementation since it was already passed in Parliament.

He nonetheless was personally skeptical whether the tax imposition will take effect on July 1 as announced by federal Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, as the implementation needs to be refined further.

“There is not much time left. From today, there is one more week left before the month of July begins. It (to implement the tax collection) might not be practical,” he said.

He also said that based on Abang Johari’s meeting with Najib, it was stated locals will be exempted from paying the tourism tax if they stayed in hotels rated three stars and below, as well as in BnBs and homestays.

To a question, he said there was no need for him to apologise to Nazri following a verbal spat arising from his request for Sarawak to be deferred from the tourism tax, stating that he had no personal problems with Nazri.

“I respect him, because he is senior. 

The only chat I ever had with him was many years ago before I became a YB (elected representative), when I was a MARA student talking to him when he was chairman of MARA,” he said. -TheBorneoPost

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