Channel half of departure tax earnings to state, Sabah says

Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Christina Liew said Sabah attracted a lot of tourists to the country and contributed significantly to the country’s tourism industry. ― Picture by Julia Chan
Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Christina Liew said Sabah attracted a lot of tourists to the country and contributed significantly to the country’s tourism industry. ― Picture by Julia Chan

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 5 — Expressing dissatisfaction that it was not consulted before a decision was made, the Sabah government has said it wants at least 50 per cent of the collection from the departure tax here to be given to the state government.

Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Christina Liew said that the state was not aware of the departure fee to be imposed as of September 1, and hoped that it would adopt the same mechanism as the tourism tax, whereby 50 per cent of the collection was channelled back to the state.

“I will discuss this with the chief minister later and let him bring it up to the Ministry of Finance and see whether we can work it so that we get back at least 50 per cent,” she said.

She said that the state was not aware of the levy before the announcement recently and did not want to speculate how it would affect tourism numbers in the future.

“I know that other Asean countries also impose this but I don’t know how it will affect us until the first quarter of it being imposed. My concern now is whether we will get any of the funds,” she said.

“This is another example of how the federal government and ministries should always consult with the state minister first. I was in the dark, I didn’t know.

“I admit that the federal government has refunded us 50 per cent of the tourism tax but I don’t know about this but I would like for this to also be refunded. This will help us improve our infrastructure,” she said.

Liew said Sabah attracted a lot of tourists to the country and contributed significantly to the country’s tourism industry.

Sabah hit a record number of 3.6 million tourists last year and is aiming for four million this year.

In a ministerial order gazetted by the Federal Government on July 31, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng set out the departure levy rates depending on the destination abroad and whether the flight is economy class. The fees range from RM8 to RM150.

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