The government is set to charge passengers for an advanced screening system before allowing them to fly out of the country, according to a report by The Sun.
Called the Advance Passenger Screening System (APSS), air travel passengers will apparently be made to pay some RM35 for it.
This is on top of the RM8 billion tax ringgit that will be spent contracting it out to a private company to render the system over 15 years, said the report, quoting a source.
“The plan is to have the company develop the hardware and software for the APSS and that passengers bear the cost,” said the source.
Back in July, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan (photo) Mohamed said the government was seeking to implement the APSS to facilitate better border security.
Upon boarding a plane to Malaysia, background information of passengers would be provided electronically by airlines to the Immigration Department.
This would allow the department to screen passengers and identify any security or terror risks before they land in the country.
Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was previously quoted as saying the system would help prevent the movement of terrorists across borders.
System cheaper elsewhere, ‘makes no sense’
However, such systems were already being implemented in countries and they had come with a significantly smaller price tag, said the report.
“This plan makes no real sense as there are readily-available systems in the world, like the system being used in Australia, which only costs about A$80 million (RM250 million),” the report added, quoting its source.
In those countries, the government would usually bear the costs of such systems or charge passengers a nominal fee.
“But this is not the case here, as airline passengers are being forced to pay for the security system,” according to the report.
The report also questioned which authority would be responsible to collect the RM35 fee.
Presently, Malaysia Airports Berhad collects airport tax while the Malaysian Aviation Commission receives the RM1 airport levies from passengers.
Earlier this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it “strongly opposed” the government’s alleged plan to charge passengers for the APSS.
This is because airlines already contributed passenger information to authorities and of the 65 countries that had implemented the system, most did not charge passengers for it.
The association also warned that the Malaysian travel industry and GDP risked being negatively impacted by it.
The Home Ministry and the Immigration Department have been contacted for comments.