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Friday, November 22, 2013

GST ‘unIslamic’, PAS ulama tell Putrajaya

NOVEMBER 21, 2013
PAS wing representative Azhar Yaacob said that the GST was a cruel,
burdensome measure that was unIslamic. He spoke against the tax
at the PAS Ulama Muktamar at Dewan Banquet MBSA, Shah Alam,
November 21, 2013. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
SHAH ALAM, Nov 21 — PAS ulama wing labelled Putrajaya’s proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) ‘unIslamic’ today in a vehement rejection of the new consumption tax scheduled for kick-off in April 2015.

According to a representative from the wing comprising Islamic clerics, the GST is a ‘cruel’ measure that would burden Malaysians, especially the young, who are already saddled with household debts and various daily payments like toll charges.

“Suddenly in this situation where they already cannot breathe, Umno and Barisan Nasional government has introduced the GST ... This is something which goes against Islam,” said wing representative Azhar Yaacob.

“Rulers cannot, and it is even haram (forbidden), to take money from the public as long as the country’s finance is enough for the survival of the people and the rulers.”

The cleric also stressed that the PAS ulama differs from their allies in Pakatan Rakyat, who support GST conditionally, claiming that the ulama will never agree with the tax since it is seen as against the religion.

Azahar was debating a motion before a 500-strong crowd, during the wing’s annual muktamar (conference) here themed “Ulama Haraki Menangani Fasad, Mengisi Kemenangan” (Progressive clerics handling damage and fulfilling victory).

According to Azahar, in Islam a taxation system must only take from the rich and give for the poor, but the opposite is happening with GST since even those who are liable to receive zakat (alms) money must also pay the consumption tax.

In addition, any money taken through tax must be spend for the use of the public, and not to cover any leakage and wastage that happen in Putrajaya, citing the example of the controversial RM1.6 million funding of a “K-pop” concert during a Youth Day celebration last year.

“Do we redha (accept), when we pay taxes ... Then suddenly we find out that it was used for maksiat (vices). I ask you, do you redha or not?” Azahar asked the crowd, who replied with a loud ‘no’.

While tabling Budget 2014 last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that Malaysia will finally implement the long-delayed GST at 6 per cent beginning April 2015 to tackle its chronic deficit.

To offset the new tax, Najib also announced that personal income tax will be reduced by 1 to 3 percentage points, depending on the income bracket.

A one-off payment of RM300 under the 1 Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) will also be made following the implementation scheduled for April 1, 2015.

The GST is a consumption tax, meaning all Malaysians will be taxed according to their level of spending, regardless of income. This differs from income tax that is only applicable after a certain salary level is exceeded.

Malaysia’s proposed GST rate of 6 per cent is the lowest in the region, whereas most countries implement a 10 per cent value added tax (VAT).

The tax was first announced during Budget 2005 and was originally scheduled to be implemented in 2007 before it was deferred.

The GST Bill was then tabled for the first reading in 2009 for implementation in late 2011, but was withdrawn during the second reading in 2010 following fierce public resistance.

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