Kitingan presses ministers to reclaim 40% of departure tax

Air travellers leaving Malaysia for Asean countries are charged RM8 in economy class and RM50 in other classes.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan has challenged Sabahan ministers and deputy ministers in the federal Cabinet to help the state reclaim at least 40% of the tax collected from the departure levy which came into effect yesterday.

Kitingan, who is president of Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), said the federal government was constitutionally bound to return 40% of the revenues collected from Sabah, in accordance with the 10th Schedule.

Pressure from the state government and Sabahan federal ministers would put the ball at the feet of the finance minister and the federal government to return the 40%, he said, in a statement.

“They have been harping that they have been raising Sabah issues in the Cabinet, although, there are no tangible results to show for their efforts.”

If Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng refused to return the 40%, Jeffrey said, it will be obvious that he and the federal government have no regard for the federal constitution.

Starting yesterday, anyone leaving Malaysia for Asean countries will be charged RM8 for flights in economy class and RM50 for other classes.

For flights to countries outside Asean, those travelling in economy class will be charged RM20, while those in other classes will have to fork out RM150.

This levy is on top of a passenger service charge or airport tax, which is RM35 for flights to Asean and RM73 for non-Asean flights.

The departure charges would have a major impact on tourism in Sabah, he said.

“For good measure, the Sabah government should retain the other 60% of the departure tax and keep it as contra payment for other net revenues due to Sabah, pending the return of the full 40% net revenues to the state,” he said.

“In fact, the Warisan-led Sabah government has said that the arrears by the Federal government have amounted to RM1 trillion. But they seem to have forgotten all about it now that they are in government,” he added.