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Monday, December 23, 2013

Call to review 400pc hike in business licence fees

Publication: NST
Date of publication: Dec 21, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 010
Byline / Author: By Eunice Au

SHAH ALAM: PKR communications director Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad has called on the state government to review the 400 per cent increase in business licence fees which will take effect on Jan 1.

Nik Nazmi, who is also deputy speaker and Seri Setia assemblyman, said the 400 per cent hike by a few local councils had to be reconsidered as it would affect small- and medium-sized enterprises.

He described the move as "too sharp an increase".

He added that the state government should take into account the rising costs experienced by small traders, workers, farmers and the middle class, especially in the face of subsidy reductions, the impending goods and services tax (GST) implementation and the increase in toll rates and electricity tarriff.

Nik Nazmi called on the state government to ensure that any future policy changes were made based on the interests of the people.

The increase, under the Trade, Business and Industry By-Law 2007, was gazetted on July 17, 2007, and was to be enforced on Jan 1, 2008 but the state government delayed the implementation on Dec 6, 2007, following protests.

In a response to traders' protests against the fee hike, state Local Government, Research and Development excoComitte chairman Datuk Teng Chang Khim said all local councils had been instructed to set up a "licence fee appeal committee" which would hear their pleas and help traders facing difficulties in paying the new licence rates.

"Traders can appeal, and the appeal committee will look into the matter based on merit.

"Those who had already paid the new rates could also appeal to the relevant local council committees."

The decision to set up the committees was made during the state Economic Action Council (MTES) meeting chaired by Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on Thursday.

Teng said the current rates had been used by all local councils in the state, except for the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, since 1987.

He said the implementation of the by-law had been delayed for six months and the adjustment of the new rates is being done only after 26 years.

Teng also said the local councils needed revenue to strengthen their development budget, failing which, some may not have enough money to spend on building basic facilities for the people.

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