Posted on February 9, 2014, Sunday
TENOM: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) secretary-general Datuk Johnny Mositun has called on the Sabah government to initiate talks with the federal government to safeguard its revenue base following the country’s adoption of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
This, he said, is because both federal and state revenue collection patterns and parameters will see some radical changes under the GST.
“We must not forget the principles that govern revenue collection and sharing between the federal government and the states of Sabah and Sarawak when the Malaysia Agreement was signed,” Mositun said when closing a seminar for party members with the theme ‘Mind Transformation to Enhance the Struggle of PBS in the Eyes of a Multiracial Society’ organised and hosted by the party’s Melalap division.
He also said it would be necessary to study the GST in detail in order to pre-empt any possible losses or reduction of state revenue under the new tax order.
“The government to government talks I propose would allow both sides to do the necessary fine-tuning to protect the interests of both the federal and state governments and to avoid unnecessary complications later on.
“My Barisan Nasional colleagues in Sarawak have expressed similar sentiments on this issue,” Mositun said.
The average Malaysian, by and large, are not well-versed with the country’s tax collection and revenue sharing system, especially when it concerns state and federal taxes, he added.
“Due to the circumstances leading to the formation of Malaysia, taxes and revenue sharing between the federal government and the two eastern states are quite different in scope and principle compared to that applied in the states of Peninsular Malaysia,” Mositun pointed out.
He cited palm oil and gaming as examples where the state imposed an additional tax on top of the federal tax.
According to Mositun, the federal government provides Sabah with ample funds for infrastructure and development, but Sabah also relies heavily on state taxes and revenues for administration and development due to its size and other circumstances.
“Under these circumstances, it is only proper that any vague, ambiguous terms or aspects of GST should be addressed and fine-tuned beforehand to ensure that state rights and interests are not compromised, inadvertently or otherwise.
“In principle, GST is indeed a fairer and more equitable system of taxation in keeping with the new world economic order. Correctly and fairly implemented, there will be no problems,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Mositun said he is looking into the possibility of organising talks and discussions for party cadres and leaders at all levels to explain the GST system to the people at large.
“PBS will do its part to explain the GST to Sabahans and we may invite some experts, academics and senior government officials for a session with members before or during our coming anniversary in March.
“There are simply too many misconceptions over this issue that need to be clarified for the good of the people and the country,” he said.
On the seminar itself, Mositun said it was aimed at sustaining the strength and resilience of party members to face challenging times ahead.
“To this end, PBS Chief Information Officer Datuk Jahid Jahim gave the members a talk on the PBS struggle, so that our members at the division and branch levels would not be swayed from continuing the party struggle, while Supreme Council Member Peter Allion presented a paper on laws relevant to pertinent issues and the party struggle,” he said.
Mositun also said it was important to keep the members properly and adequately informed of the current situation in the state and country, especially in this present era and changing political landscape.
“As such, in my closing speech, I reminded all PBS members to do their part in disseminating accurate information to the people on relevant issues.
“I also told them that while it was important to recruit more party members, it was equally, if not more important that they arm themselves with accurate information and knowledge which they could impart to the people at large as that would effectively increase support for the party and the Barisan Nasional in general,” he said.
The seminar was opened by PBS Deputy President and federal cabinet minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili. Also present was PBS Melalap Division Chief cum State Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Malleh.