IPOH, Feb 1 — The total revenue collected by the Perak state government last year decreased by 10 per cent or RM111.4 million from RM1.09 billion collected in the previous year due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Saarani Mohamad said the state government had closed the account for 2020 with a deficit of RM77.4 million, the first deficit in 12 years.
“At the same time, the economic gloom caused by this pandemic demanded the government to spend more than usual and thus affect the government’s fiscal situation,” he said at the Executive Talk and New Year 2021 Message with Perak civil servants made virtually on his official Facebook page and the Perak state secretary’s office today.
According to Saarani, tourism is one of the most affected sectors due to the Movement Control Order on March 18 last year when the number of hotel guests in Perak dropped sharply by 62.9 per cent to only 540,000 people compared with 1.4 million people in 2019.
Saarani said based on the Tourism Malaysia study, the number of domestic tourists from January to June last year at Ipoh, Taiping and Pulau Pangkor decreased by 62.8 per cent to only 488,000 people compared to 1.3 million people for the same period in 2019.
He said international tourists decreased by 64.3 per cent to 52,000 in 2020 compared to 147,000 in 2019 for the same period.
“In this regard, I advise the state government to look at revenue generation opportunities for the state this year without introducing new taxes that can burden the people and industry players.
“Among them is implementing a more friendly approach to collect revenue by continuing to provide tax arrear discounts and review existing agreements and policies that can benefit the state and the people, especially in sectors involving land, water and forest resources,” he said.
Apart from that, he also advised the state authorities to increase enforcement and prevent revenue leakage by ensuring that state revenue is not illegally exploited and further exploring new revenue.
Saarani said the state government was drafting a state development plan or framework that set strategic policies to make Perak a developed, competitive and sustainable state which is expected to be launched next March.
He said Institut Darul Ridzuan which is being restructured as a state think tank would conduct a special study and engage with government agencies as well as stakeholders to formulate the plan.
He also encouraged efforts to increase the effectiveness of service delivery to the people through digital platforms by adapting new norms in the civil service through the delivery of government systems online by encouraging cashless payments.