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KUCHING, Jan 8: Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chief Chong Chieng Jen gave an assurance today that he would be the first to object to the Finance Ministry if the 50 per cent tourism tax due to Sarawak is not paid within the first quarter of this year.
In a statement, he urged Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to be “reasonable, sincere and rational” when it comes to government-to-government dealings and not to play to the gallery by making unreasonable demands and allegations.
Chong assured that in the sharing of the tourism tax, the Finance Minister would not discriminate against any state.
Abdul Karim, he pointed out, had wrongly accused the federal government when he said Sabah had received its 50 per cent share of the tourism tax from the federal government, while Sarawak had yet to receive its share.
“Upon reading his (Abdul Karim) statement, I immediately checked with the Ministry of Finance. I was informed that the said allegation is baseless and untrue,” he said.
Chong reiterated that all states would receive their share of the tourism tax by March this year.
“Today (Jan 8), the deputy chief minister of Sabah, Christina Liew, confirmed that Sabah had not received its share of the tourism tax,” said Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.
He stressed that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had on Nov 2, during the tabling of the 2019 Budget, announced that the tourism tax would be paid out this year.
“This is only the first week of 2019, and accounts have to be verified and finalised and payment arranged,” said Chong.
“Now that Christina Liew has come out to verify that Sabah has not received its share of the tourism tax, what is Abdul Karim going to do about his ‘mis-informer’ and his subsequent wrongful allegation?” asked Chong.
Chong said the federal government only started to collect tourism tax in Sept 2017, and when the then Barisan Nasional (BN) government tabled the 2018 Budget, nothing was allocated for the payment of the tourism tax.
“Sure enough, Sarawak did not get its 50 per cent tourism tax as orally promised by the BN government.
“It was only when PH (Pakatan Harapan) took over the federal government that in its first budget (ie 2019 Budget), the federal government promised to return the 50 per cent tourism tax due to all the states, including Sarawak,” he added.
Chong wondered why Abdul Karim kept quiet when the then BN government did not give Sarawak its share of the tourism tax then. — DayakDaily