KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah and Sarawak governments had last year objected to the proposed Tourism Tax (TTx) before its tabling in Parliament.
Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said despite the objection, the Federal government proceeded to enact the Tourism Tax Act 2017 to impose a levy on all tourists.
Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz tabled the Bill and it was passed in the Parliament in April this year.
"The state government had accordingly informed the relevant authority at the Federal level on our objection to the TTx.
"The Sarawak government too had objected to the proposal, which was conveyed to our Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Musa Aman) during Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg's first visit to the state capital as (Sarawak) Chief Minister," he said in a statement today.
He said both state governments had then agreed to work together to have common stand on the proposed tourism tax.
Masidi stressed that Sabah shares the same view with Sarawak in that there was little or no consultation with the two state governments prior to the enactment of the law.
"The passing of the Act to impose tourism tax has created new dynamics and a new challenge on the part of the state government.
"The state government is going to discuss and decide our stand on the Tourism Tax Act 2017 in the next cabinet meeting," said Masidi.
He said although the state government had objected to the proposed TTx, it has not rejected the new tax.
"The withdrawal of Sarawak's representative from the Board of Directors of the Malaysia Tourism Board (MTB) has been wrongly interpreted as opting out of the tourism tax regime.
"Many suggested Sabah should follow suit. Withdrawal from the MTB does not equate to opting out of the provisions of the new Act nor does it amount to rejecting it.
"MTB does not decide tourism policies or laws relating to tourism. It is the marketing or promotional arm of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture," he added.
Masidi stressed that Sabah would continue to work with Sarawak to find common ground in their engagement with the Federal government in the efforts to find fair solutions to the issue.