On Sunday, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg had said the tourism tax
will not be implemented in the state on July 1 — Picture by Sulok Tawie
KUCHING, June 27 ― Sarawak Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today expressed belief the prime minister will give the state dispensation to delay collecting a federal tourism tax next month.
He was responding to questions on the Sarawak chief minister's announcement last week that the state will not implement the tax on the same schedule as the rest of the country.
Karim today said Datuk Seri Najib Razak was wise and willing to listen to feedback from the leaders of Sabah and Sarawak that are under Barisan Nasional's rule.
“Najib is also the finance minister, and as such, he has the full power to determine when the tourism tax implementation would be,” he told Malay Mail Online today.
“(Therefore), with or without applying for exemption, it is immaterial,” he added.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg had said the tourism tax will not be implemented in the state on July 1 and for as long as negotiation on its methodology between state and federal government was ongoing.
Today, Karim noted that the “minister” mentioned in the Tourism Tax Act was the finance minister, and not federal Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz.
He said this meant the introduction, timing and enforcement of the tax came entirely under Najib's purview rather than Nazri.
Malay Mail Online previously reported lawyers as saying that Sarawak must apply for exemption from the Finance Ministry if the state refuses to collect the tourism tax.
The federal tourism tax rates scheduled to take effect July 1 are between RM2.50 per room each night for unrated accommodation and RM20 per room each night for five-star hotels.