KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Legislative Assembly will give elected representatives more time to give their feedback on Bills tabled before it, says state Youth and Sports Minister Ginger Phoong.
Phoong said that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) wants assemblymen to highlight various issues that need attention in their respective constituencies.
This allowance for extra time was made in the debate over a Supplementary Bill,seeking RM337 million to cover additional expenditures for 2019.
“In the past,Supplementary Bills were debated briefly and passed quickly. But we only meet three or four times a year and there are many issues assemblymen could raise if longer debates are allowed," said Phoong.
“It also allows for the ministries concerned to take note of the issues and tackle them as they arise,” he added when speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the State Assembly.
While wrapping up the debates,Shafie addressed various issues raised by assemblymen such as tourism,the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and oil palm plantations.
On tourism,Shafie said that the Federal Government had decided that 50% of the tourism tax collected would be returned to the respective state governments.
“This year,Sabah only received RM12 million. Tourism is one of Sabah’s biggest income generators,so it should not only be RM12 million," said Shafee.
He added that he was informed that the tax was only for hotel rooms.
“I asked that this is reviewed as we need an increase,” added Shafee.
He added that the Sabah government was not consulted or included in the discussions on the departure levy,saying that the state government hoped to discuss the matter to ensure that it did not hinder the local tourism industry.
Shafie also wanted to see "romantic tourism" developed in Sabah,targeting newly-weds and honeymooners.
“We want those who came to Sabah to have a memory of a lifetime. We can’t depend only on islands and Mount Kinabalu. We need to create infrastructure,such as a cable car in Kundasang,or even one linking Kota Kinabalu to Pulau Gaya," said Shafee.
On syndicates issuing MyKads to illegal immigrants,he said firm action should be taken so that this is not used to commit crimes or infiltrate the state.
Asked about oil palm plantations,Shafee said that there was no need to plant more palm oil trees.
He said the focus should be on other crops,such as hardwood trees.
The supplementary bill which was passed consisted mainly of accounts coordination as required by the accounting regulations.
This came up to RM243 million or 72.2% of the total sum.
“Only 27.8% or RM93.7 million involves cash flow in this supplementary expenditure,” Shafie added.