BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY
OCTOBER 31, 2013
LATEST UPDATE: OCTOBER 31, 2013 03:59 PM
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today said although the Goods and Services Tax (GST) announced last week is systematic, the opposition camp will not make it a priority should it become the government of the day.
"I was never against GST. In fact, I was the one who had suggested to the government in 1993 to implement it when there was a surplus in the economy,” Anwar, who is also Permatang Pauh MP, told reporters in the Parliament lobby.
"What I am against is the period during which this is being implemented." Anwar said the government needs to first address critical issues to develop the economy before implementing the GST.
"Financial leakages need to be plugged and corruption needs to be abolished. "After this, and when the economy is stable, GST can be mulled."
Anwar also said the 17-month grace period to allow business entities to make adjustments is not enough.
"In fact, years are needed. Too many issues need to be settled within 17 months and this is impossible," he added.
"If it were left to PR, we would not implement GST now… it does not make sense," he added. "On principle I agree to GST."
Anwar said that PR will be organising publicity campaigns throughout the country to explain to the public PR's stand on the matter.
Putrajaya plans to implement the GST on April 1, 2015.
Items that will be exempted from GST are rice, flour, vegetables, sugar, fish, chicken, salt, cooking oil, eggs, beef, chicken, mutton, spices, cencaluk, budu and belacan.
Essential services such as public transport, financial services and education will also be exempted.
When implemented, the GST will replace the sales tax and services tax which were introduced in 1972 and 1975 respectively.
The GST was first announced during Budget 2005 and was originally scheduled to be implemented in 2007 but it was deferred.
It was then tabled in Parliament for the first reading in 2009 and to be implemented later that year but was shelved following vocal public resistance.- October 31, 2013.