MELAKA: Hotels here have been promptly paying the heritage taxes charged by the state government, says the Malaysian Hotel Association of Hotels (MAH).
Melaka chapter chairman Khairulnizam Kasim said a check with local hotel management showed that none of its members had defaulted in settling the taxes since it was imposed in 2017.
"Hotels will ensure punctuality in the bi-monthly payments to avoid issuance of notices by the local authorities.
"Furthermore, any defaults in payment would result in our hotel star ratings being affected," he said in an interview on Thursday (Nov 30).
Khairulnizam said the Tourism Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) implements a very strict checklist for star rating classification for hotels, adding that representatives from the local councils are part of the committee in awarding such status.
Khairulnizam said Motac’s checklist will scrutinise all aspects including whether the hotels have defaulted on the payment of heritage taxes before awarding the star rating.
“Benchmarking parameters for awarding star ratings are stringent and every hotel will promptly settle the taxes to avoid losing the status," he said.
Khairulnizam was asked to comment on a brief post in a local community Facebook group blaming hoteliers for defaulting payments on heritage taxes following the outcome of the recent Auditor-General’s Report.
The report cited that weaknesses in the heritage charge collections by local authorities in the state resulted in lost revenue of RM498,708.
The Compliance Audit for State Departments/Agencies 2022 said that the Melaka Historic City Council (MBMB), the Hang Tuah Jaya Municipal Council (MPHTJ) and the Alor Gajah Municipal Council (MPAG) did not collect heritage charges from hotel operators.
The Heritage Charge System’s User Guide requires hotel operators to declare the number of rented rooms and make payments to the local authorities every two months.
The audit report released on Nov 27, revealed that a total of RM349,960 in heritage charges were uncollected by the three councils from hotel operators in 2022, which showed a disparity between the amount of heritage charges declared by hotel operators and the total paid by hotel operators to the three councils.
A total of RM148,748 in heritage charges were not declared by hotel or homestay operators and uncollected by the local authorities, and there were inaccuracies in the calculation of heritage charges paid to the local authorities to the state government from 2018 to 2022, with MPTHJ paying only RM1.31mil, or 60% of the collected monies, to the state.
“The audit on the payment vouchers to the state government shows that MPTHJ paid RM245,998 in three payment vouchers for 2018 and 2019, but according to the audit’s calculations, the total that is supposed to be paid for the period is RM277,903.
“A difference of RM31,905 in collections was unpaid to the state government," the report noted.