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Friday, November 1, 2013

GST a ‘triple injury’ to Sabah, Sandakan MP says

OCTOBER 28, 2013
A seafood stall keeper returns change to a customer at a market in
Kuala Lumpur August 27, 2013. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — The newly introduced goods and services tax (GST) is a “triple injury” to Sabah, a lawmaker lamented today, urging Putrajaya to delay implementation in the state.

Sandakan MP Stephen Wong pointed out that the median household income there is much lower and the prices of goods are higher as well, compared to the peninsula.

“We feel that Sabah should not implement GST along with the peninsula, because if GST is imposed, Sabah will have a triple injury.

“Our income in Sabah is around 30 to 40 per cent lower than in the peninsula, and the prices of commodities here in Sabah are more expensive than in the peninsula, especially with the cabotage policy, that they have refused to abolish.

“I don’t think it is advisable or reasonable to be have GST imposed together with the peninsula.

“If you want the impose GST, the prices have to be at least equivalent to the peninsula, otherwise it is very, very unfair,” the DAP lawmaker said.

The cabotage policy was imposed in 1980 by the federal government in a bid to integrate all Malaysian maritime laws under the Transport Ministry.

Under the policy, all domestic transport of foreign goods between peninsula and Sabah ports are only for Malaysian company vessels, leading to a shipping cartel charging excessive costs, and ultimately, bringing about a higher cost of living in East Malaysia.

“Sabahans are now the poorest among Malaysians.

“So it’s not fair to impose GST together with the peninsula, especially at 6 per cent,” Wong added.

According to the Department of Statistics, the median income for Malaysians was at RM3,626 in 2012, while the median household income in Sabah in that same period stood at RM2,860.

DAP secretary-general and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng said the needs and concerns of Sabahans have to be addressed as well, especially when a new policy is introduced nationwide.

“We just want to bring up Sabah in the national agenda because Sabah’s problems have been ignored because maybe Sabah is far away, but I think it is a very important part of Malaysia,” he said.

In his Budget 2014 speech last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the sales and services tax would be replaced with GST on April 1, 2015, with a number of essential goods to be exempted.

Federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat has said that the time is not right to implement the contentious tax as it would have a huge impact on a large number of Malaysians who are currently not paying taxes.

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