Sabah wants new tourism tax formula
Published on: Friday, August 23, 2019
By: Ricardo Unto
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KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said there is a need for the Federal Government’s tourism tax revenue distribution formula to be revised to reflect greater accuracy.

“I think the current formula used for the distribution is not quite accurate,” he said after officiating the ground-breaking ceremony of Grand Liberty Hotel, Thursday.

Currently, the formula was based on revenues collected from accommodation taxes charged on tourists.

“The revenues from the sector are wider – food and beverage, immigration, hotels, property, and many more. I am confident the revenues could reach billions of ringgit...it is one of the biggest earning sectors in the country.

“As such, we have to discuss this matter and this will be part of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 discussion under socio-economic issues,” he said.

In March, it was reported that the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry may negotiate with the Federal Government for a higher portion of the revenue from tourism tax.

Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Assaffal P Alian was reported as saying there is still room to improve so that the State can enhance its revenue. He said, in terms of tourism contribution, Sabah is currently number one in Malaysia.

Prior to that, Federal Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that 50 per cent of the revenue from last year’s tourism tax, estimated to be at RM67.74 million, would be distributed to state governments.

The amount to be distributed to Sabah was RM12.67 million, Penang (RM10.98 million), Selangor (RM10.3 million), Johor (RM7.99 million), Pahang (RM7.86 million), Melaka (RM5.35 million), Kedah (RM5.08 million), Sarawak (RM2.58 million) and Negeri Sembilan (RM2.47 million).

Meanwhile, Shafie said the State Government would continue to facilitate investors and developers in implementing their projects, especially those that contribute towards the State’s tourism sector growth, by reducing the red tapes.

“I am confident the tourism sector in Sabah is healthy and encouraging...and it needs sufficient accommodation.

“As such, the government will facilitate developers to get the necessary papers and permits to be approved promptly...such documents should not take months, or years to be approved.

“We need a good cooperation between the government and the private sector – the government spent a lot on promotions to attract tourists, and the hotel operators will benefit through their arrivals.

“This would also generate a spill-over to other industries as well, especially creating employment opportunities for Sabahans,” he said.

Meanwhile, the RM120 million Grand Liberty Hotel is set to be a new landmark for the city with distinctive diagrid structure and glass curtain wall.

Grand Liberty Sdn Bhd Director Datuk Tan Kar Leong said construction of the four-star city hotel is a testament of the company’s support for efforts to strengthen the local tourism industry.

The 13-storey hotel with 301 rooms is located within the vicinity of Ming Garden Hotel and Zara’s Boutique Hotel. It would be equipped with a variety of amenities such as restaurant, gymnasium, rooftop pool and meeting room that would create 300 jobs.

“The employment in all levels from management to the support group will be fully Sabahan.

“This would reduce the migration of Sabahans to the peninsula to seek jobs,” he said.

“The idea to establish this four-star hotel came from the support of the new Sabah Government that has given us an opportunity to further grow the industry,” he said during the ground-breaking ceremony.

“This support has driven our company to invest RM120 million to build this hotel in the heart of the city.

“We are confident that Sabah’s economic and political stability will continue to attract more investors like us to help develop the State.”

Tan also commended the efficiency of the Sabah Government which had made numerous improvements on the administrative system, especially on physical development in the State.

“As investors, we do not have to wait for years to obtain the approval of development plans unlike before. Such efficiency will further boost the economic progress of the State,” he said, adding he was confident in three to four years there will be more investment coming to the State. 

He said Sabah is now a top choice for tourists not only for its natural beauty and culture but also an internationally-recognised destination for other industries as well.


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