Rahman Dahlan says tourism tax is necessary

rahman-dahlanKUALA LUMPUR: Umno Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan may have disagreed with Cabinet colleague Nazri Aziz’s handling of queries about the new tourism tax, but he is on the same page as far as the tax itself is concerned.

The MP for Kota Belud in Sabah fully backs the tourism tax, saying it is necessary to expand the government’s revenue base.

He believes objections that the Sabah and Sarawak governments have against the tax stem from a lack of “clear articulation” of the tax process.

“This (the tourism tax) is an issue which has been decided in the Cabinet and, as rightly pointed out by Nazri, was passed in Parliament.

“The thing is, what was passed in Parliament wasn’t articulated clearly to the state governments. I think that is the issue,” he told reporters here today.

The minister in charge of the economic planning unit added that the “proper articulation” on the tourism tax might be a subject of discussion at the Federal Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

The implementation of the tourism tax, from July 1, will see hotels nationwide being forced to charge between RM2.50 and RM20 per night in taxes.

Nazri, the tourism and culture minister, had said revenue from the tax would be about RM654.62 million if the overall occupancy rate for the 11 million “room nights” in the country could achieve 60%.

However, there are calls for the tax to be deferred temporarily, at least in Sabah and Sarawak.

To this, Rahman said Nazri had expressed willingness to consider deferring the tax collection if there were matters that needed to be addressed first.

“But the tax is something we need. I personally believe, as an economy minister, it’s a good tax and it’s not so burdensome. It (involves) a very small amount.

“The tax is necessary to expand our revenue base, and to help our tourism industry which has been experiencing budget cuts, due to falling revenue of the government.”

He also said state governments would benefit from the tax, in the form of contributions from the federal government.