KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun has urged civil servants, especially in the Sabah Finance Ministry, to be tenacious like "ah long” when chasing after taxes and revenue owed to the state.
Speaking during the launching of the state government's Accountability Index System at a hotel here on Thursday (March 16), the Sabah Finance Minister said unpaid taxes could mean two things, the first being the reflection of the civil servants’ efficiency.
“But at the same time, it could also reflect that those who should pay taxes would not settle them as long as no one was chasing after them.
“So, I (jokingly) told my senior officer (in the state Finance Ministry) that we should just hire an ah long (loan shark) and it would be easier, we will definitely get the money.
“Unfortunately, we are a government department,” Masidi said, to laughter from the floor.
“(But jokes aside) if we, taken from a positive perspective, were to even have a shred of the zeal shown by ah longs in collecting debts, then we will make sure the taxes are paid on time,” he added.
Speaking to reporters later, Masidi said that he just wanted to rally the civil servants to do better in their jobs.
“I was speaking figuratively. What I’m saying is to be a bit tougher in demanding money that is due (to the state) because that is government revenue and we need it to develop Sabah.
“If you know (a person or organisation) had not settled taxes for years, then don’t give further extensions or that you don’t even send a demand letter ... that is what I’m saying which is to be more proactive,” he said.
Only in the past two months, Masidi said, his ministry was able to collect some RM20mil in back sales tax.
“That is just the surface. So, all we need to do is our jobs, issue a demand and tell them nicely, no need to break anyone’s legs.
“But do tell them in no uncertain terms that if you don’t pay, there will be repercussions,” he said.