Published on: Sunday, February 09, 2014
Tenom: Sabah must initiate governmentto-government talks with the Federal Government to safeguard its revenue base with the country's adoption of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
This is because both federal and state revenue collection patterns and parameters will see some radical changes under the GST.
"We must not forget the principles that govern revenue collection and sharing between the Federal Government and the states of Sabah and Sarawak when the Malaysia Agreement was signed," Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Secretary-General, Datuk Johnny Mositun, said when closing a seminar for party members with the theme "Mind Transformation to Enhance the Struggle of PBS in the Eyes of a Multiracial Society" organised and hosted by the Party's Melalap Division.
The Seminar was opened by PBS Deputy President and Federal Cabinet Minister Datuk Dr. Maximus Ongkili. Also present was State Minister of Rural Development and PBS Melalap Division Chief, Datuk Raden Malleh.
Mositun said it would be necessary to study the GST in detail to pre-empt any possible losses or reduction of State revenue under the new tax order.
" The government to government talks I propose would allow both sides to do any 'fine-tuning' necessary to protect the interests of both federal and state governments and avoid unnecessary complications later on. BN colleagues of mine in Sarawak have expressed similar sentiments on this issue," Mositun said.
Mositun said by and large the average Malaysian was not well-versed with the country's tax collection and revenue sharing system, especially when it concerned state and federal taxes.
" And due to the circumstances leading to the formation of Malaysia, taxes and revenue sharing between the Federal Government and these two states are quite different in scope and principle from those that apply to the states in Peninsular Malaysia," Mositun said.
Mositun cited palm oil and gaming as examples where the State imposed an additional tax on top of the Federal tax.
He added that while the Federal Government provided Sabah with ample funds for infrastructure and development, Sabah, because her size and circumstances, also relied heavily on state taxes and revenues to administer and develope the states.
"Under these circumstances, it is only proper that any vague or ambiguous terms or aspects of GST should be addressed and 'fine-tuned' beforehand to ensure that state rights and interests are not compromised, inadvertently or otherwise," Mositun said.
" In principle, GST is indeed a fairer and more equitable system of taxation in keeping with the new world economic order. Correctly and fairly implemented, there will be no problems," he said.
Mositun said he was looking into the possibility of organising talks and discussions for party cadres and leaders at all levels to explain the GST so that they could explain the matter to the people at large.
"PBS will do its part to explain GST to Sabahans. We may possibly invite some experts, academics and senior government officials for a session with members before or during our coming Congress in March. There are simply too many misconceptions over this issue that need to be clarified for the good of the people and the country," he said.
On the seminar itself Mositun said it was aimed at sustaining the strength and resilience of party members to face the challenging times ahead.
" To this end PBS Chief Information Officer, Datuk Jahid Jahim, gave the members a talk on the PBS struggle so that our members at division and branch levels would not be swayed from continuing the party struggle while Supreme Council Member Peter Allion presented a paper on laws relevant to pertinent issues and the party struggle," Mositun said.
Mositun said in the present era and changing political landscape it was important to keep members correctly and adequately informed of the current situation in the state and country.
" As such in my closing speech I reminded all PBS members to do their part in disseminating the correct information to the rakyat on relevant issues.
I also told them that while it was important to recruit more party members, it was equally if not more important that they arm themselves with the correct information and knowledge which they could impart to the people at large.
That would be effective in increasing support for the party and BN in general," Mositun said.