KOTA KINABALU: All business chambers on the Labuan Island have locked arms in denouncing the new policy governing duty-free shops that limit the sales and purchase of cheap alcohol and cigarettes from Nov 1.
The new policy is seen as an arm-twisting tactic to kill business, said business groups comprising the Dewan Perniagaan Melayu Malaysia (DPMM), Labuan Chinese Chamber of Commerce as well as the Indian Business and Industry Chamber.
Others include the Malaysian Islamic Business and Trade Chamber and Kadazan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Effective Tuesday, every customer of a duty-free shop is only allowed to buy three cartons of beer, five cartons of cigarettes and five litres of alcohol in a month.
Customers are required to provide their identification or passport to a Customs officer stationed at a special counter in the shop as well.
And the officer will record every transaction made, said the group.
“We want the policy to be scrapped and the reinstatement of the old policy,” the group said in a statement after a two-hour meeting.
“We are disappointed with the decision on duty-free shops, which now have to abide by a set of ridiculous rules which will definitely kill off business.”
Chairing the meeting at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce office here, DPMM president Datuk Yusof Mohammad said the group opposed the policy as the new rules under the Customs Act on duty-free shops have affected the island’s economy, which rides heavily on their duty-free businesses.
“None of the business chambers were ever consulted about the rules before their implementation,” Yusof said, adding that the group was supportive of the Customs Department in addressing any loopholes in the loss of revenue of the country but they should not be so restrictive with their rules.
“Even the Prime Minister said he did not want to see the lives of the people affected with various austerity measures,” he said.
Yusof said the department needed to find other measures to implement better rules without making businesses and customers suffer.
Labuan Chinese Chamber chairman Datuk Wong Kee Yii said since Tuesday, traders were seeing a drop of customers including tourists buying from the outlets.
Wong said customers did not liked to be asked for identification as they feel as though their buying habit was being tracked.
The group has collected 2,000 signatures from islanders who are against the new measures to be submitted to the prime minister.