Real impact of departure levy will be known once implemented — Abdul Karim

Travel and passport - DayakDaily.com file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, April 12: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah is still uncertain of the kind of impact the departure levy would have on Sarawak.

He said as the tax had yet to be implemented, he would not be able to tell the impact. However, he was certain travellers on a tight budget would not be happy.

“Nobody likes to pay tax. Whether it is going to affect travellers will have to be seen when the tax is imposed. Travellers on a tight budget definitely will be affected,” he told DayakDaily today.

Meanwhile, Limbang MP Hasbi Habibollah, when contacted, said as the departure levy only applied to air travellers, there would be minimal impact on Limbang-Brunei travellers.

“In the proposed Act itself, there is a term that says that the levy will be on ‘apa-apa jenis kenderaan’ (all modes of transport).

“That makes people in Limbang very worried. So, during the debate in Parliament, I sought clarification. And I was told it will only be imposed on air travellers,” he said.

Hasbi said if the bill was to be imposed on travellers on all modes of transport, Limbang people would be ‘finished’ because they go in and out every day. Bruneians also travel in and out every day, creating many economic activities for Limbang folk.

He said he supported the Departure Levy Bill 2019 after he was told it would only be for air travellers.

While debating in parliament, Hasbi said it would impact Limbang, Lawas and Miri greatly if the new tax was imposed on all modes of transport for those leaving Malaysia.

He said Brunei is situated within northern Sarawak, and there were Sarawakians frequently travelling between Limbang and Lawas, where they inevitably would pass by Brunei.

Furthermore, he said due to the lack of facilities in Lawas, patients in Lawas with severe medical cases had to be sent to Miri or Sabah for treatment. If every leaving cost RM20, it would mean a lot to Lawas folk.

He also raised the fact that the entry of Bruneian tourists had helped to boost the economy of Miri, Lawas and Limbang. If the new tax was imposed on cars, that would cut down the entry of Bruneians, thus affecting businesses in the state.

The Departure Levy Bill 2019 was passed on April 10. The passing of the Bill allows the government to impose a departure levy on all travels out of Malaysia.

The levy is RM20 for those departing for Asean countries, while it is RM40 for other countries. This tax is on top of the RM73 passenger service charge (PSC). — DayakDaily