Tax collectors' 'ah long'-like mentality leads to record revenue for Sabah

Masidi (middle) presenting a letter of appreciation to SMJ Energy executive director (legal and commercial) Datuk Brenndon Keith Soh in recognition of the state-owned company’s achievement of highest dividend paid to the state government.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Finance Ministry staff have been praised for their tenacity when going after tax defaulters, which has led to a record in revenue collection for the state.

State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said Sabah's 2023 revenue collection was affected by falling prices of crude palm oil (CPO) and crude oil (CO), the state's two main sources of taxation income.

He said the 2023 income eclipsed 2022's figures by RM11mil.

"I am very proud of the members of this ministry, who acted like 'ah longs'," he said, during the state Finance Ministry dinner here on Friday (Jan 12) night.

"They are highly committed and worked tirelessly to seek revenue and we were able to overcome these challenges (declining CPO and CO prices) with other revenue collection," he said.

Masidi said Sabah's revenue collection was RM5.449bil in 2021 and RM6.96bil in 2022.

He said things did not look promising in 2023 due to challenges triggered by decreasing commodity prices, leading to a RM566.3mil reduction in revenue collection from the two main sources.

"We are grateful that despite the decline in CPO and CO prices, the Sabah government was still able to collect RM6.971bil in income last year compared to the collection in 2022 (RM6.96bil), exceeding it by RM11mil.

"In 2023, 68% of the state's revenue came from these two sources," Masidi said.

During a ministry function in March last year, Masidi urged civil servants, especially those in his ministry, to "think like an ah long" when going after taxes owed to the state.

He later said he was speaking figuratively and only wanted to rally government servants to do better.

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