Departure tax: Sabah, Sarawak should have been consulted — Abdul Karim

Karim (centre) addressing the press conference.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Aug 8: Sarawak and Sabah state governments should have been consulted on the departure tax or levy before it was implemented.

Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, said this because both states have some autonomy over immigration.

“I have expressed my feeling that I am not very happy about the introduction of the departure tax.

“It is different if it relates to West Malaysia. We have certain rights, so if they want to introduce the tax in Sarawak, I think the state government should have been informed,” he told a press conference after chairing the Sarawak Youth Development Committee 2019 meeting, here, today.

Abdul Karim pointed out that the timing of the departure levy, which will come into effect this Sept 1, was not suitable as Sarawak has just launched the Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

“It is not very pleasant but I was made to understand that the Minister of Tourism has appealed for deferment of the departure tax,” he said.

He questioned why the Finance Ministry was so pressured to introduce all kinds of taxes including sugar tax.

“Previously there was the GST (Goods and Services Tax), which was abolished and now it seems they are probably short of money,” he said.

The Departure Levy Bill 2019, which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara this year, was officially gazetted by the federal government on July 1.

As such, travellers including foreigners going out of Malaysia, either by air, land or sea, will have to pay a departure tax ranging from RM8 to RM150 starting next month.

According to the Departure Levy (Rate of Departure Levy) Order 2019, those travelling on economy class from Malaysia to Asean countries will be required to pay a levy of RM8, while those on other flight classes will pay RM50.

For flights to countries outside the Asean region, passengers on economy class will have to pay RM20, while in other flight classes will be charged RM150. — DayakDaily