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KOTA KINABALU, Feb 1, 2016:

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is considering imposing a tax on hotels with a minimum of three-stars to address environmental issues in the state.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun in disclosing this said the proposal was still at the discussion level, adding that only a minimal fee would be charged so as not to burden the hoteliers.

“We might call it Environmental Tax, and the money will be put into a transparent trust fund to manage their garbage disposal or environment protection work better,” he said, speaking after launching Rayani Air’s maiden flight to Sabah, today.

Of late, Masidi noted, there had been complaints from the public over the lack of cleanliness in the city. The matter had also been raised during the state government’s cabinet meeting urging for a quick solution to the problem which was becoming an eyesore, he said.

“We specifically discussed the uncleanliness of the city, including the rivers, sea and drains during the State Cabinet meeting and we were tasked to handle the matter.

“The ministry has formed a small committee to look into the issue and we will need the assistance of the Local Government and Housing Ministry, in particular the Kota Kinabalu City Hall, to solve the issue,” he said, adding the newly appointed city Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai would have a heavy task and challenges ahead, especially where environment is concerned.

He said as far as environment was concerned, it was time to tackle the “bull by its horns”, before the garbage problem becomes worse.

“Tourists are coming to Sabah because they love the environment here, but I fear if we do not overcome the current issues, we will lose them and in the end, hurt our tourism industry, which is one of the main contributors to the state’s economy,” he said, adding that Penang was one of the states which had imposed a similar tax.

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