Departure Levy Bill 2019 passed

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN & DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Air travellers leaving the country will have to pay a fee following the Dewan Rakyat’s decision to pass the Departure Levy Bill 2019 yesterday.

The approval was obtained after the third reading of the bill to tax all outbound travellers — both locals and foreigners — with a majority vote.

The bill was tabled for its first reading by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah (picture) on Tuesday.

Despite brickbats during the debate sessions, the legislators gave the bill a go. However, the amount of the proposed levy was not mentioned in the bill.

The idea to charge air travellers leaving the country was first mooted in the 2019 budget presented by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, at a rate of RM20 per person for those flying to Asean countries and RM40 to other countries.

In his winding-up speech, Amiruddin assured that the levy will be imposed solely on persons opting to fly out of the country and will not be applicable to other modes of transportation.

“The government’s intention now is to impose a levy on aircraft passengers. The bill will be amended appropriately later.

“One day, for whatever reason, if people decide to go out of the country on a cruise, we already have this law in place,” he said in response to a question by Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (Barisan Nasional-Ayer Hitam) who asked on the scope of the levy.

Clause 9(1)(a) in the Departure Levy Bill states that anyone leaving Malaysia “by any operator” shall be subjected to the departure levy, except in a privately owned vehicle.

According to the bill, any person who leaves Malaysia will be taxed and the operator of any carrier shall collect the levy on behalf of the government.

The bill also proposes that any foreign-registered person who contravenes could be fined up to RM50,000 and/or face imprisonment for a term of up to three years.

It also proposes that the minister may fix the rate of the levy to be charged which may vary, or amend the rate of the levy. The rate will then be presented in the Dewan Rakyat.

The proposed Act also states that any person who in any way assaults, obstructs, hinders, threatens or molests a Customs officer in discharging his duties or fails to give reasonable assistance to any Customs officer will also be liable to a maximum three-year jail term, a fine not exceeding RM500,000 or both, if found guilty.

The departure levy would be charged on top of the RM73 passenger service charge already imposed by airports.

The departure levy is expected to add between RM900 million and RM1 billion to the government revenue.