IPOH, June 21 — The development of Pangkor island as a duty-free haven will depend on its masterplan that only started two months ago.
Perak executive councillor Tan Kar Hing said a committee chaired by State Secretary Zainal Azman Abu Seman is currently undertaking the study for the masterplan.
“The committee just started working two months ago,” he told Malay Mail in a recent interview.
Hence, Tan, who chairs the state tourism, arts and culture committee, said not to expect much development on the island when it is declared duty-free on January 1, 2020.
“The island desperately needs a development masterplan.
“There is also a need for a guideline on hawkers and taxis operating on the island,” he added, noting that development on the island has been haphazard.
Tan said once the masterplan is submitted to the government, only then will funding come from the Finance Ministry to construct the facilities.
Tan said when the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government announced that Pangkor Island would be duty-free, nothing was done.
“It was a mere announcement,” he said.
Pangkor residents told Malay Mail previously they were concerned about the apparent lack of infrastructure to deal with the island going duty-free with six months left on the clock.
It was previously reported that the tax-free status for Pangkor was first announced by BN during the tabling of Budget 2018 in Parliament.
Then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was also finance minister at the time, said the west coast island would be declared tax-free, with the exception of tobacco, alcohol and vehicles.
Local tourism players had previously said that the duty-free status was a good idea if the authorities used the tax-free status to bring in stores that sold branded goods like chocolates, perfumes and clothing.
The reopening of Pangkor Airport on October 1 is also expected to boost tourism and business on the resort island.