KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah State Cabinet on Thursday discussed at length the Tourism Tax Act 2017.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said the State Cabinet members accepted and took note of the merits of the Act.
However, he said the State Cabinet feels there is a need for further deliberations and clarity on some key issues of the Act to ensure the State tourism industry benefits from it.
Masidi said the State Tourism Ministry had been entrusted to deliberate further on some key issues of the Act and to report back to the Chief Minister and the State Cabinet their findings and proposals.
In the spirit of cooperation with Sarawak and consistent with the previous understanding to come up with a joint stand on the tourism tax, Sabah is inviting the Sarawak Tourism Ministry to discuss and deliberate on some pertinent issues of the Tourism Act, he said.
The outcome of the discussion and deliberation would then be submitted to the respective Chief Minister/State Cabinet in a form of a draft memorandum to the Federal Government for its consideration.
The joint memorandum would be handed by both Chief Ministers to the Prime Minister who is also the Finance Minister, he added.
The tourism tax comes under the purview of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Sabah wants to contribute ideas and proposals to fine-tune certain provisions of the Act to strengthen the tourism industry. The industry has been very resilient and at times the savior of our economy during challenging time,” he said.
In the case of Sabah, Masidi said it is the only major industry that is controlled by locals in term of employment.
“It’s crucial that the industry is well managed and regulated,” he added.
The tourism tax, which is set to be in effect on July 1, had drawn flaks from both government and opposition lawmakers, especially from those in Sabah and Sarawak.
Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah on Thursday said the state accepted the implementation of the tax but wanted its share of tax collected to be channelled directly to the state government.
Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said the government is looking exempting Malaysians who stay in hotels rated
three stars and below from
paying the controversial tourism tax. -BP.