KOTA KINABALU: Labuan folk have been jolted by news that the island’s duty-free status could be in jeopardy.
Many feared the international offshore financial centre (IOFC) would be “economically crippled” if it were to lose the status which it had enjoyed for decades.
“Let’s face it, cheaper cigarettes and liquor are among the main attractions here,” Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce adviser Roger Chua said.
He said many Sabah folk spent a day or two in Labuan during public holidays and usually bought liquor or cigarettes.
Chua noted that authorities were already tackling the problem of cigarette and alcohol smuggling by acting against 10 duty-free agents in the island, recently.
Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin said on Friday that Finance Ministry officials had reported to the Cabinet that widespread smuggling of cigarettes and liqour had caused the Government to suffer massive losses.
He revealed this had prompted the Finance Ministry to examine the viability of the island’s duty-free status.
Raja Nong Chik said an alternative was to impose a quota on the import of cigarettes and liquor into the island.