Sarawak opposition leader Baru Bian has urged Chief Minister Adenan Satem to emulate Musa Aman, his counterpart in Sabah, and oppose amendments to the Income Tax Act 1967 as they affect only non-Muslims.
Baru, the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, said Adenan had yet to take a stand on the amendments.
Baru was quoted by The Borneo Post as saying; “It would be commendable if he were to announce that he stands with the Sabah chief minister in opposing the amendments.”
Baru, who is also PKR Sarawak chairman, was commenting on Musa’s announcement that he was against the imposition of tax on non-Muslim religious bodies. The Sabah Chief Minister cited freedom of worship and the need to promote harmony in a multiracial society.
Musa said he understood the amendments were about preventing donations being abused. However, he added that he was opposed to the changes in any case as they affected only non-Muslim religious bodies.
“It appears that everyone, including ministers, are confused about the amendments,” said Baru. “Also, the ministers are contradicting each other on the amendments.”
Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani had reportedly said the amendments were about religious institutions that invest donations to generate profit, Baru said.
Meanwhile, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was reported to have said taxes would be imposed only on those individuals who used religion to benefit themselves.
Baru was quoted as saying: “The government should explain the intention of the amendments and the likely impact on those affected.”
He reiterated that although the impact of the amendments was still not clear, “PKR Sarawak was opposed to the taxation of religious institutions”.
The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) said in a statement the amendments to Clause 13(1)(b) Schedule 6 of the Income Tax Act 1967 (Act 53) in Budget 2017 was for clarity on tax exemptions for religious institutions or organisations.
The Sabah Council of Churches and other groups, however, said the amendments would subject churches and other non-Muslim organisations to taxation. This was against freedom of worship, said the Council in a statement.
Source : @ FMT Online