Decoding Sabah's share: Upko plans roundtable to chart course for revenue reclamation

KOTA KINABALU: To address the return of 40 per cent net revenue to Sabah, the United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) is set to present a proposal outlining the implementation mechanism.

Its president Datuk Ewon Benedick said a roundtable discussion, scheduled for Dec 19, will bring together experts in legal, audit, and inland revenue.

During a recent state assembly sitting, the Kadamaian assemblyman highlighted the need for a new formula in reclaiming the entitled 40 per cent net revenue.

He emphasised the importance of discussing the practicalities of implementation, such as potentially reducing development allocation to offset the balance as a grant payment.

"Are we ready to reduce the amount of development allocation and offset (the balance) as grant payment for the 40 per cent? Is Sabah ready towards that direction?

"Is Sabah ready to start the refund directly from the Inland revenue board and Customs department in Sabah? We know that there are multinational companies paying directly to Kuala Lumpur as they were registered in Kuala Lumpur," he told the media after the launching of "Coffee Cactus" by Koperasi Usahawan Peniaga Inanam Bhd ( KoUpio).

Acknowledging potential disagreements with the federal government, Ewon stressed the necessity of addressing loopholes in the Malaysia Agreement 1963, presenting a counterproposal if needed.

"Sometimes the federal government, for instance the Finance Ministry would propose suggestions which we might not agree to, but if we do not state our counter proposal and suggestion, how to fulfil the return of the 40 per cent. That is why the solutions should be different and this involves consensus at the state government level.

"There must be a starting point. If we want to discuss the direct taxes collected in Sabah and the indirect taxes, it undoubtedly involves a lengthy process that includes interpretations of numerous legislations. This will extend the timeline (by July 18 next year) which is already determined by the government."

Upko plans to hold a roundtable with party members and experts to facilitate focused discussions to avoid political debates with the public. However, Ewon welcomed input from leaders and the public.

Earlier, Ewon announced RM40,000 to support KoUpio's development of its coffee product and lemongrass-based essential oil.

Also present were Assistant Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Industries Minister Peto Galim and KoUpio chairperson Datin Easter Sikayun.

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