Nuffnang Add

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Handle our wealth well

Publication: NST
Date of publication: Nov 27, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 019
Byline / Author: By Dr Tan Eng Bee

I REFER to the report "PM: Tax evasion akin to treason" (NST, Nov 25). The prime minister said that paying taxes is patriotic as it helps the people and enables the nation to develop.

He said paying the goods and services tax (GST) was in line with the definition of patriotism that included meeting responsibilities for the benefit of the nation.

As citizens of this country, it is our obligation to pay taxes on our earnings.

But the money must be spent well and for the common good.

The Auditor-General's Report had recently highlighted some disturbing expenditure and it was reported that action was being taken against those responsible.

As a citizen, I feel strongly that the taxes collected from different sources and channelled into the nation's coffers must be prudently and responsibly spent.

We are aware many among the masses are living from hand to mouth, which include the middle-income wage earners, who are feeling the brunt of the rising cost of living expenses, the escalating cost of houses, living expenses and medical care, among others.

Even the layman who knows nothing about economics will appreciate that if expenditure is more than income, he is living beyond his means and borrowing is the next logical step.

That starts the beginning of an end and spells economic trouble and doom for him.

We are a nation blessed with rich natural resources, such as petroleum.

As one of the world's chief producers of palm oil, we are still lagging behind other nations in many ways.

At this stage of our nation's life, since achieving independence in 1957, we should have become a developed state with surplus in our coffers to progress further and to help other nations.

Another issue that is not dealt with appropriately is corruption.

Corruption, the scourge of the nation, has not been contained. Although, on the surface, it seems to be improving, to the public, there is much more that needs to be done. Official statistics may not reflect the actual situation on the ground.

Corruption can bring a nation to its knees unless there is a firm, strong and unshakable political will to wipe it out from the system. If left unchecked, this will drag our nation downhill.

More so is the fact that a number of prominent politicians and top-level public servants were taken to court on corruption charges in recent months, but released because of a lack of evidence.

If the powers that be are serious about curbing corruption without fear or favour and to spend our money prudently, I see no reason why the masses cannot accept GST and pay the tax.

But please ensure public spending is above board.

GST is a wise move, but considering the current situation, a revamp of how we are supposed to spend should be reviewed before it comes into effect.

Dr Tan Eng Bee, Kajang, Selangor.

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