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Bill to abolish Poll Tax in North Borneo announced
Published on: Saturday, November 27, 2021
By: North Borneo News and Sabah Times
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(Monday, August 27, 1962)

74-year-old taxation ends

JESSELTON, Sunday. – The Secretary for Local Government announced today to introduce a Bill at the next meeting of Legislative Council to abolish poll tax in North Borneo.

Poll tax in North Borneo has a long and interesting history.

It was first established in 1888 when District Officers were authorized to grant certificates of tenure to any native individual for village community which were to ensure the title of the holders so long as they continued to pay poll tax regularly and properly to cultivate or remain in occupation of the holdings.

Proclamation

This Proclamation was replaced in 1902 by a “Proclamation to gradually abolish the poll tax and to establish a system of land tenure by native”. This enactment formed the basis of the present system of land tenure on native title. Since the Land Proclamation No 7 of 1913 however, no title to or occupation of land has been dependent on the payment of poll tax.

The poll Tax Proclamation contained a provision exempting from payment all native paying annual taxation in excess of $3 per annum in the form of quit rent., boat licences or certain other taxation. With the steady rise in the standard of living of the natives of North Borneo and the increase in the amount of land held by them under title, revenue from poll tax has steadily fallen and it amounts now only to some $63,000. Of this, moreover, three-quarters goes not to the Central Government, but to Local Authorities.

Recommendation

In 1961 the Native Needs Committee recommended that poll tax should now be abolished and their views were supported by the Native Chiefs’ Conference and by the Revenue Committee. Two important difficulties arise about abolishing this taxation. Firstly, it forms an important element in the revenue over a period by a grant to these Local Authorities from Central Government Funds. Secondly, poll tax has in the past been collected by Headmen who have received a commission on its collection. Government proposes to replace this form of remuneration by a corresponding increase in the provision of bonuses to Headmen.

The abolition of Poll Tax will not adversely affect any existing native rights or privileges.

It is proposed by Government that if this Bill be enacted, poll tax should be abolished with effect from the 1st January, 1963.





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