KUALA LUMPUR: On the basis of a spontaneous "show of hands" poll conducted by Datuk Seri Wahid Omar at the World Capital Markets Symposium 2013, here, yesterday, the much-debated Goods and Services Tax (GST) apparently has the support of many Malaysians.
Only two of the more than 700 fund managers, bankers and capital markets players opposed the consumption tax, which is expected to be announced in the 2014 Budget on Friday and implemented in 2015.
"Can I get some indication as to whether the audience will support the implementation of the GST?" the minister in the Prime Minister's Department asked, and most of the participants raised their hands in support of it.
He ended the quick survey by saying: "Thank you. I will raise this (matter) in the Parliament", followed by thunderous applause and laughter from the audience.
Earlier, Wahid was asked by the session moderator about the government's next move in implementing the GST, in view of the many suggestions and recommendations from various parties.
He said the government is considering all aspects of its implementation, including taking into account the experience of the more than 150 countries that have implemented the value-added tax.
"We must deal with all the unintended consequences should we implement the GST in the future," Wahid said.
He also highlighted three important aspects that need to be resolved.
Firstly, the people should not be unnecessarily affected, he said.
"Secondly, in terms of coverage, we will ensure that essential items are exempted, and thirdly, the revenues generated can be used to improve the lot the people," he explained.
On the budget, Wahid expressed confident that it will address concerns raised by rating agencies, especially Fitch Ratings, which revised Malaysia's outlook to "negative" from "stable" in July.
Wahid also assured the audience that the government is serious in addressing issues raised in the Auditor-General's report, which highlighted cases of corruption and weaknesses.
He said the government has already set up a committee chaired by the chief secretary to the government to thoroughly go through the reports, which were tabled in Parliament early this month.