By Shahrum Sayuthi | firstname.lastname@example.org
KUALA LUMPUR : There is a need for Malaysians to have a better understanding of the soon to be implemented Goods and Services Tax (GST) as many had been duped by the opposition into believing that its introduction was meant to oppress them.
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also the Prime Minister said it was unfortunate that the opposition had deemed it fit to "spin" facts about the GST from it being important to the country's economic resilience into an instrument to cause hardship for the rakyat.
Touching on the subject while delivering his presidential address at the Umno general assembly today, Najib said the GST which will be implemented on Apr 5, 2015 is not actually a new form of taxation.
"It is actually to replace the Sales Tax and Services Tax which will be abolished,' he said, adding that GST is actually an efficient taxation system which needed to be implemented in order for the country to remain competitive.
"Furthermore, more than 160 countries around the world had implemented GST. If GST is harmful for the people and the country, there would be no way that the majority of countries in the world could had implemented this taxation system," he said.
"Adding to that, GST at a rate of six per cent is among the lowest among the Asean countries."
Najib said the people should not be unduly worried as many essential items, such as rice, sugar, salt, flour and cooking oil were excluded from the GST.
He also explained that the subsidy rationalization measures on sugar was meant to improve Malaysians' health.
About 2.6 million Malaysians above 30 years old were suffering from diabetes.
As for fuel prices, Najib said its prices depended on the international market which is beyond the government's control.
"The truth is, the price of fuel has not increase, it's just that we had reduced its subsidies as a rationalization measure. We can't continue to bear the burden of the petrol subsidies which had annually touched RM24.8 billion."
Najib explained that for the country to continue dishing out subsidies at such a rate, it will have a negative impact on its competitiveness.
To lessen the burden of the people, Najib said the government had opted on introducing financial assistance measures for especially the needy such as the One Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) scheme.
He added that such measures by the government had produced good outcomes which among others had prompted international credit rating agency Moody's Investors Service to recently upgrade the country's credit rating from "stable" to positive".