Pangkor duty-free will not hurt Labuan: MP
Published on: Thursday, November 08, 2018

Labuan: Member of Parliament Datuk Rozman Isli assured that the duty-free status considered for Pangkor Island will not pose challenges to Labuan. "Pangkor is far from Labuan and totally another market. The Labuan customer base is visitors from Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak and also the oil and gas sector," he said.

He was commenting on the 2019 Budget under which it was unveiled that Pangkor could be made a duty-free island to develop its tourism and subsequently to become a premier destination, while Port Swettenham in Penang would also accorded the same status and the Langkawi status would be upgraded.

Rozman said Langkawi has been a free part since the 1980s and had not negatively impacted on Labuan. "Pangkor is nearer to Langkawi and the worry should be for Langkawi and not Labuan," he added.

Rozman said the new development showed the new Government did not take a negative view of free ports but, on the other hand, realised that they are important to boost tourism.

"Local traders should take this as reassuring that the Labuan status would be intact and without fear invest to upgrade and expand the industry.

"Such efforts should be supported by the Government by way of lifting the duty-free curbs imposed on Labuan since 2016 and providing perks by way of increasing the duty-free shopping limit to RM1,000."

Due to reported leakage of RM5 billion arising from the three duty-free islands of Langkawi, Tioman and Labuan, the Finance Ministry imposed the controls, which had a crippling effect on the island's status and remained not lifted despite furious complaints.

Rozman also hoped the Government would upgrade the duty-free status of Labuan as it is to be done for Langkawi.

He also hoped there would be perks and support provided for the island's RM70 million premium duty-free circuit being developed here to more visitors to Labuan.

Describing the new budget as a "recovery budget", Rozman welcomed the increase in allocation to the Federal Territory Ministry to RM1.56 billion due to the enlarged portfolio of the Ministry to cover National country and Town Planning as well as National Landscape.

"My hope is that from the increase Labuan would also be allocated more funds for tourism. The RM2 million allocated last year was hardly enough for holding tourism-based events and embellishing tourism products and having new ones," said Rozman

He said Labuan needed new attractions.

"We have this bad experience last year when tourists from Taiwan supposed to come here in several batches cancelled bookings after three flights due to lack of local attractions." - Sohan Das


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