Date of publication: Oct 31, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 004
Byline / Author: By Ili Liyana Mokhtar
KUALA LUMPUR: THE opposition should stop politicising the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his 2014 Budget speech recently.
They should instead acknowledge its benefits.
"By all means, if we have done something wrong, criticise us but if we have done something right for the benefit of the nation and the people, then they should work with us," Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said yesterday.
He was speaking on TV3's Soal Jawab programme hosted by Datuk Ahmad A. Talib.
Wahid said the opposition had in fact admitted that the GST's implementation was a good move in its manifesto, but felt that it wasn't the right time to carry it out.
"The government had been discussing implementing the GST since 2006 and in 2009, the bill was tabled in Parliament. However, there was a strong movement against implementing it at that time, maybe due to some misunderstanding.
"But now, we have ample time after taking into account feedback from the people and economists. Personally, I feel it is the correct time to implement GST."
Wahid said many countries had implemented GST before and had vouched for its effectiveness as a comprehensive tax structure.
He noted that many people were misinformed that the GST was an additional tax when it was actually a new tax structure replacing the Sales and Services Tax.
"Its rate, at six per cent, is the lowest among Asean countries, while its impact on the prices of goods is minimised as some goods will have zero tax and some are exempted from tax.
"There is also income support from the government like the one-off cash aid of RM300 and reduction in income tax," he explained, adding that middle-income earners would also get a significant tax relief of RM2,000.
Wahid said a team had already been formed at the ministry level to disseminate information on GST to businesses and companies.
"Additional information will also be provided in our website on the subject."
As for businesses that might increase their prices due to the implementation of GST, he said there would be mechanisms in place to monitor the situation should it occur.
On another matter, Wahid said the removal of sugar subsidy by 34 sen (a kg of sugar is priced at RM2.84 against RM2.50 previously) was still reasonable.
"I feel that there is no other country in this world that spends a large amount on subsidies. We spend RM24.8 billion on cooking oil, petrol, diesel and gas alone.
"This is enormous, so we need to reduce these subsidies gradually to enable the government to channel more allocations for other needs and areas."
On changes that might happen once the budget was approved in Parliament, Wahid said it was normal for adjustments to be made according to current situation and needs.