Kembalikan daya tarikan Labuan pulihkan status pulau bebas cukai kata kerajaan

KOTA KINABALU: The Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) has urged the government to restore Labuan’s status as a completely duty-free island.

Its Labuan immediate past chairman Peter Pikul said this was necessary in order to boost economic development on the Federal Territory island.


In the past, he said, visitors used to flock to Labuan, which was an international offshore financial center, because of the duty-free status.

“Not only was the economy vibrant, there were a lot of job opportunities available. It was easier to do business then.

“When tax was imposed on certain goods, Labuan seemed to have lost its charm.


“Returning the full-fledged free-duty status would reignite the economy and create more job opportunities on the island,” Pikul said on Wednesday (March 8).


Pikul’s call comes after a recent announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that the construction of the Labuan-Sabah bridge was not a priority for the government for now.

The government had decided to tax cigarettes and tobacco products on all duty-free islands including in Langkawi, Tioman and Pangkor, besides Labuan, from Jan 1, 2021.


On the bridge issue, Pikul shared the sentiments of other Labuanites who were in favor of its construction, saying the infrastructure would bring about multiple benefits to the island and the surrounding region.

“The bridge will definitely provide a more convenient and faster mode of transportation for people and goods, as currently Labuan is only accessible by air and sea.


“To date, most businesses in Labuan depend on the roll-on, roll-off (roro) ferry service as their means of transportation because it is relatively cheaper but which costs them huge gaps in delivery time. It is not cost effective,” he said.


Consequently, he added, it would be more economical for businesses to operate and expand, and ultimately, end-users who consist mainly of the ordinary people would benefit.


Having the bridge, Pikul said, would also increase the number of tourists to Labuan, as it would make the island more accessible to visitors with more options and convenience.


“I urge the authorities to listen to the voice of the people who aspire for the bridge, both as part of the government’s social obligation towards the people, as well as serve for a positive impetus to enhance the economy of not only Labuan but its peripheral areas,” he said.

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