Seafood Tax: Now Not The Time To Burden the Rakyat Further, GRS Told

KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah Minister Of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Junz Wong on Tuesday urged the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government to be more considerate towards stakeholders in the aquaculture industry.

This comes ahead of an imminent export tax for seafood.

“Aquaculture-related players are very confused and no one knows exactly what will be taxed,” Junz said in a statement.

“Do aquaculture farm owners need to pay export tax? Do we need to pay export tax for downstream products?”

“GRS must clarify.”

Junz added, this export tax initially cropped up during the then-BN administration, but was shelved during the Warisan era as Warisan was keen on industrialising the aquaculture industry.

“I am aware the seafood tax proposal which was first recommended by the then BN administration.”

“But when Warisan took over in 2018, under my tenure as Agriculture ans Food Industry Minister, this proposal was shelved.”

“My consideration was simple. If Sabah were to industrialise the aquaculture sector, the government’s policies must be investor and business friendly.”

“If you impose a tax on aquaculture exports, cost for investors will become less competitive.”

“Who is going to come to Sabah to invest when neighbouring countries are offering better deals? Investors will just move away to neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Philippines!”

“The same goes to downstream factories. If you implement export tax on downstream factories, downstream players will be discouraged and forced to move out of Sabah.”

“Is this what GRS want?”

Junz who is also Warisan Vice President said, the abrupt decision by the government is not only irresponsible, but also unethical.

“In a time where the economy is slumping, the government should focus on building more industries especially in the agriculture and aquaculture sector, in order to stimulate the people’s income and create new jobs.”

“But instead, GRS is doing the opposite. This is downright irresponsible and unethical to our own local industry.

“The whole world is facing difficulties. Is GRS expecting aquaculture players to top up the government’s coffers in a time of crisis like this?”

Towards the end, Junz said he will get in touch with Chief Minister and raise concerns of the industry players.

“I have gotten in touch with the Chief Minister. I hope the government will hear out the grouses of Sabahans, instead of listening to hidden hands who are thinking of ways to make money from the rakyat.”

“If it were me, I will postpone the implementation and re-think this policy.”