KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state assembly has allowed more time for feedback from elected representatives during the debate on a supplementary supply Bill seeking RM337mil in additional expenditure for the year.
According to Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Ginger Phoong,Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal had wanted the assemblymen to highlight the various issues in their constituencies.
“In the past,supplementary supply Bills were debated briefly and passed quickly.
“But we only meet three or four times a year (in the state assembly). There are many issues assemblymen can raise in allowing for longer debates.
“It also allows for the ministries concerned to take note and tackle the issues that arise,” he said at the sidelines of the state assembly here.
In his reply to points raised during debate on the Bill,Shafie addressed various issues,such as tourism,Malaysia Agreement 1963 and palm oil plantations.
“It has been decided by the federal Cabinet that 50% of the collection (from tourism sector) must be returned back to the (respective) states.
“This year,Sabah only received RM12mil. Tourism is one of Sabah’s biggest income generators so it could not only be RM12mil.
“But I was informed that this was only for hotel rooms (taxes). So I asked for this to be reviewed as we need an increase,” he said.
On the departure levy for flights,he said the Sabah government was neither consulted nor included in the discussion,adding that it hoped for further talks so that the fee would not pose a hindrance to the tourism industry.
Shafie said he also wanted to see more “romantic tourism” targeting newly-weds and honeymooners developed in Sabah.
“We want those who come to Sabah to have a memory of a lifetime. We can’t depend just on the islands and our Mount Kinabalu.
“We need to create infrastructure,for example,cable car attractions in Kundasang or even linking Kota Kinabalu to Pulau Gaya. Then,we can offer high altitude dining,” he suggested.
On syndicates issuing MyKads to illegals,he said firm action should be taken so that no bad hats would take advantage of this to commit crimes or infiltrate into state.
He also agreed with the assemblymen that there was no need to open up more plantations but to focus on other crops such as hardwood.
The supplementary supply Bill was passed,mainly due to coordination under accounting regulations,namely RM243mil or 72.2% of the total sum.
“Only 27.8% or RM93.7mil involves cash flow in this supplementary expenditure,” Shafie added.