PUTRAJAYA: The distribution of 50% of the 2018 tourism tax revenue will be made to all state governments in the first quarter of 2019, courtesy of the federal government, according to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
In a statement today, he said the accounts on the 2018 tourism tax collection would be finalised soon and the federal government had yet to distribute any tax revenue to the state governments.
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“From the legal standpoint, tourism tax is the federal government’s revenue so the states are not legally entitled to it,” Lim noted.
Although the previous government did not attempt to share and distribute the tourism tax revenue to the states, the Pakatan Harapan government had, during the 2019 Budget speech, announced the sharing of 50% of the tourism tax collected by each state starting 2019, he said.
He explained that this reflected the federal government’s new attitude of respecting the states.
Lim was responding to a recent statement by Sarawak state’s Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah that the Sarawak government had not received tourism tax payments totalling RM2.7 million since September 2017 although other states, such as Sabah, had.
Abdul Karim was reported as saying that the allocation was the state’s right and the federal government must therefore pay it.
Lim said the government did not practise favouritism by distributing the tourism tax revenue only to certain states but not Sarawak.
“The Finance Ministry would like to assert that no state, including Sabah, has already received the tourism proceeds as claimed by Abdul Karim,” he added.
Lim said it was only proper for the Sarawak government not to make the allegation about the RM2.7 million tourism tax distribution considering that as of Nov 30, 2018, the state government still owed more than RM2.5 billion to the federal government, with arrears of nearly RM50 million.
“Given that Sarawak has large reserves, why doesn’t it settle its debt to the federal government?” he asked. — Bernama