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Friday, September 13, 2013

Rehda can help control property prices


Publication: NST
Date of publication: Sep 12, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 018
Byline / Author: By R.C.W

I REFER to the recent remark by the president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) that property prices can be expected to rise by 10 per cent following the increase in petrol prices.

How did he arrive at the figure when the Housing and Local Government Ministry is of the view that any rise in prices should be no more than three per cent?

While we can understand that there will likely be a general increase in the cost of goods and services, one cannot simply generalise and make a statement that property prices will rise by a whopping 10 per cent, unless a proper study is carried out to ascertain what will go up in prices and by how much.

It seems to me that it is becoming a trend that whenever there is a change in fuel prices, Redha will issue a message to the public that material prices will go up and therefore property prices.

I recalled that Rehda made a similar remark a few years ago when the government raised fuel prices.

It is simple economics that everyone knows that prices of goods and services in general will rise whenever there is a hike in fuel, but a person of his standing in the housing industry should be more responsible by not generalising the future price of properties, unless he has carried out a detailed study and there is evidence to support the rise by that margin.

No doubt, Rehda has a duty to protect its members but it also has a duty to make responsible statements to the public.

While, on the one hand, the government is concerned over the galloping house prices in the the last few years and looking at new budgetary measures on how to curb speculation and excessive rise in property prices, here we have someone making an announcement that property prices will rise substantially, just because there is a hike in fuel prices.

Rehda should do more to help the government and the public to manage property prices while ensuring its members continue to earn a reasonable profit.

It is a fact that developers in general are already raking in huge profits over the last few years and will continue to do so.

On top of this, even with the impending goods and services tax (GST), they will pass this burden on to buyers at the end of the day but it certainly does not give them a "licence" to increase prices automatically by a large margin.

Currently, there is no price control on properties or building materials and, therefore, buyers have no choice but to pay for whatever quoted by the developers.

In some cases, buyers not only have to pay high prices but also end up getting shoddy workmanship and materials.

The government should consider setting up a body to monitor any increase in property prices by developers, some of which have contributed to higher prices.

R.C.W, Kuala Lumpur

Global Blue Card provides tax refund opportunity for Malaysian shoppers


Published: Thursday September 12, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Thursday September 12, 2013 MYT 8:01:58 AM

MISSING out on a tax refund opportunity can put a dampener on any overseas shopping trip.

Global Blue, with 30 years of expertise helping travelers shop and spend overseas, has launched the solution to help globe shoppers with its new Global Blue Card.

The new tax-free shopping card allows Malaysian travellers and shoppers to save up to 19% on purchases made abroad, while removing the hassle of filling out tax-free forms.

Overseas travel is part of a new lifestyle for many Malaysians, and picking up a new watch or loading up on brand-name handbags is as central to the travel experience for them as sightseeing or sampling the local cuisine.

Global Blue executive vice-president Arjen Kruger said, “Overseas consumption continues to rise among Malaysian tourists and there is no doubt that tax-free refunds are a major force behind this trend.

“At Global Blue, we aim to eliminate obstacles such as language barriers, lack of know-how and time wasted at the counter that limit access for so many globe shoppers, thus ensuring the most efficient tax refund service.”

You can now register for your Global Blue Card for free via www.globalblue.com and join a group of smart shoppers while enjoying worldwide tax-free shopping.

The traditional process for collecting tax refunds requires filling out tax-free forms and long queues at the airport to submit paperwork. The Global Blue Card streamlines the entire process into three easy steps.

When shopping at any of Global Blue’s 270,000 partner stores across 37 countries, just swipe your Global Blue Card at check-out to automatically generate your tax-free form.

Get the form stamped at the customs desk in the airport, designate the credit card details on which you want to receive the refunds on and leave it in Global Blue’s refund mailbox.

In most cases, your refund will be transferred to your credit card account within five business days upon receipt at Global Blue’s processing centre.

Besides providing convenient Tax Free Shopping, Global Blue Card holders will also be able to receive exclusive promotions from leading retailers and membership information from Global Blue’s official website, Weibo, Wechat and mobile apps in the near future.

All-round fiscal responsibility


Posted on 11 September 2013 - 07:26pm
Last updated on 11 September 2013 - 10:13pm
Tricia Yeoh

THE government says it intends to pursue fiscally responsible policies, but this must be consistently applied throughout its bureaucracy from top to bottom, and in all areas.

Last month, ratings house Fitch Ratings downgraded Malaysia from a "stable" to "negative" outlook, noting the poor state of Malaysia's public finances and uncertain prospects for budgetary reform and fiscal consolidation.

Indeed, there have been concerns expressed over recent years of the country's federal government debt, which has risen up to 53.5% of GDP at the end of 2012.

The two budgetary vulnerabilities it identified were the reliance on petroleum-derived revenues, and the high and rising weight of subsidies in expenditure.

It is likely for these reasons that the Najib administration decided to revert to its "subsidy rationalisation" plan, namely the announcement last week of the fuel price increase of 20 sen for RON95 and 15 sen for RON97 at the petrol pumps, which will reportedly save government up to RM3.3 billion annually.

From a fiscally responsible point of view, removing petrol subsidies both ensures that government is reallocating resources to better target aid to the poor, as well as reduces the dependency people (including the rich) have on cheap fuel. The same argument would go for the goods and services tax (GST) that may be announced in the 2014 budget.

Both reducing subsidies and introducing the GST would, in the long run, certainly help boost Malaysia's debt situation, thereby improving our international ratings. But the real reasons for which people are questioning these decisions have little to do with economic theory.

First, subsidies to independent power producers (IPPs) contribute an estimated RM8 billion annually out of the total subsidies paid a year (RM42.4 billion in 2012). Although some IPP contracts are being renegotiated, there is a need for greater transparency as to the terms of these new contracts. A legitimate question is therefore why the subsidy rationalisation scheme is not being uniformly implemented across the board.

Second, leaders had previously committed to the maintaining of petrol price before the general election. Although one understands the need for politicians to be expedient, this does not help Malaysians in their financial planning. Knowing one's potential rapid increase in living costs would allow for adjustments to be made accordingly. Surprise price increases are not helpful in this case.

A third and most common complaint by now is the exorbitant and excessive spending of government, many foolish practices of which are reported year after year by the auditor-general.

It is all well and good for government to responsibly raise revenues so that the national coffers do not run dry. But an equally, and perhaps more, responsible thing to do would be to watch where the money is being spent, and to do so in an accountable manner.

The Resources Governance Index 2013, which measures the quality of governance in the oil and gas sectors around the world, ranked Malaysia 34 out of 58 countries and scoring only 46 out of 100. Placed in the "weak" category, Malaysia performed poorly in the areas of "institutional and legal setting" and "safeguards and quality controls".

Transparency in government procurement is another equally important area. The Auditor-General's Report in 2011 revealed that the open tender process was not conducted for several projects. It is particularly important for projects that are privatised under either PPP (public-private partnerships) or PFI (private finance initiatives) arrangements to be awarded under open tenders, which is not necessarily the case at present.

Finally, the greatest concern is that incomes are not rising in commensurate measure with the rise in living costs. A more open and competitive economic environment would allow for greater job opportunities that accompany investments, especially that of higher value functions. Malaysia's performance in the Economic Freedom Index 2013 dropped slightly, affected by declines in monetary freedom, trade freedom and freedom from corruption.

It is important for information to be made available in the value chain of money both going in and out of government accounts. Although recorded in the thick budget books of "Estimates of Federal Government Revenue and Expenditure" respectively, there are still elements that could be made more transparent.

In short, while the government waxes lyrical about the need to exercise fiscal responsibility, this must be applied in all areas of its policymaking. There must therefore be a visible drive to reduce wastage and excessively lucrative pay-outs to companies at the expense of the public. Without this, the level of trust in what these funds are being used for will not improve, subsequently making all justifications of economic efficiency futile.

Tricia Yeoh is COO of an independent think-tank. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

For Celcom, GST has a nice ring to it


Posted on 12 September 2013 - 05:40am
Liew Jia Teng sunbiz@thesundaily.com

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 12, 2013): Celcom Axiata Bhd is looking forward to the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), which is widely expected to be announced in the upcoming Budget 2014 to be tabled in Parliament on Oct 25.

For one, telecommunication companies (telcos) like Celcom will save some money as they no longer have to pay the government out of their own pocket for the service tax that were supposed to be collected from the sales of airtime through pre-paid top-ups.

"The impact for us is positive. Today, we have to absorb the service tax and we won't be able to claim it back. But with the implementation of GST which we expect to happen in 2015, it's going to be value added to us," its CFO Chari TVT told reporters yesterday.

Telcos are at a stalemate over the service tax (on prepaid lines) issue, with some operators wary about raising prices amid rising competition, Celcom CEO Datuk Seri Mohamed Shazalli Ramly said.

"Some players want to use this as a competitive advantage (by absorbing the 6% service tax for pre-paid users) and some players want to pass it to the customers. We have not come to the position on how best we can do this and which route we want to take," he told a press conference to announce the group's latest quarterly results.

Shazalli said telcos are aggressively lobbying for more incentives and rebates to be included in the budget.

"We normally ask for incentives once we execute our programmes such as digital services and other new businesses.

We should be able to get some form of rebate to allow us to be a catalyst of digitising the whole Malaysia," he said.

Smartphone ownership on Celcom's network climbed to 3.57 million units in the first half this year, driven by aggressive sales of new device launches and bundles which pushed device sales to RM128 million.

"I would like to see a lot more digitisation effort in the country, to make sure the benefit is translated directly to Malaysians," Shazalli said.

Celcom, a unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd-controlled Axiata Group Bhd, said quarterly sales sailed through the RM2 billion mark for the first time in the three months ended June 30, 2013 after it expanded 5% from RM1.92 billion a year ago.

It also marked the 29th continuous quarterly revenue growth for the group.

Net profit during the second quarter grew 4.3% to RM555 million from RM532 million previously.

On a six months basis, revenue increased 4.3% from RM3.83 billion to RM3.99 billion, while net profit grew 2.1% from RM1.05 billion to RM1.07 billion.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) stood at RM1.78 billion, with a margin of 44.5%.

Shazalli said the target is to sustain full-year ebitda margin level at between 40% and 45%.

"We want to be the most profitable telco, as there is no point comparing who is bigger than the other based on revenue."

Maintain GST rate for five years


Published: Wednesday September 11, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Wednesday September 11, 2013 MYT 8:18:46 AM

IT is heartening that the director-general of the Inland Revenue Board, Tan Sri Mohd Shukor Mahfar, has expressed the possibility of a reduction in the income tax rate with the introduction of the GST.

The GST is a broad-based tax system and a tax on consumption.

With the reduction of income and corporate tax rates, it will spur and encourage entrepreneurship and business activities and growth of capital which all countries need for sustained growth and prosperity.

Furthermore, there is a dire need to reduce the income and corporate tax rates to be in line with our neighbours so as to be competitive and attractive for investments both local and foreign.

Lower income and corporate tax will also discourage the introduction of all types of tax-saving schemes and allow businesses to concentrate on business.

The GST rate should be set to

be revenue neutral except to capture taxes from those who have avoided paying their dues under the income and corporate tax regime.

The GST should not be a tool to generate more tax revenue to burden the people.

Furthermore, many countries have introduced GST at a low rate with the hidden intent to subsequently increase the rate as a easy way of increasing revenue.

The Government must assure us that this will not be so and the GST rate should be maintained for at least five years before any review is conducted.

Such reviews should be conducted transparently and with full justification for any rate change.

However, GST revenue will always rise with the growth of the economy and there should be no reason to increase the rate if our Government judiciously designs our budget with prudence and care.


TAXPAYER
Petaling Jaya

CIMB Research: DiGi to benefit most from GST


Published: Friday September 13, 2013 MYT 8:33:00 AM 
Updated: Friday September 13, 2013 MYT 8:36:04 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Equities Research said the likely introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) should be positive for the mobile carriers as they would no longer have to absorb the 6% sales tax for prepaid users.

“DiGi would benefit the most as 71% of its revenues are prepaid vs 58% at Celcomand 55% at Maxis,” it said.

It said on Friday the sector and its stock calls remain a Neutral across the board despite this potential development as the impact would be limited.

Assuming that the telcos are able to recover only half the tax as some consumers would reduce their usage when GST is imposed, it estimated only a 3%-6% lift for CY15 core net profit and 3%-5% for target prices. M1 is its top pick in the region.

CIMB Research said the GST proposal is likely to be included in Budget 2014 proposals which will be tabled on Oct 25. Should it indeed be on the cards, the GST would only be introduced in 2015 as the government will take around 14 months to implement it.

“Our economists expect it to range between 4% and 6%,” it said.

The imposition of GST should be positive for the mobile operators as they would finally be able to pass on the 6% sales tax on prepaid revenue that they have been absorbing. Postpaid users already bear this tax.

“DiGi stands to benefit the most from a GST, followed by Maxis and Axiata (throughCelcom). Prepaid revenue makes up 71% of DiGi’s total revenue versus an estimated 55% at Maxis and 58% of Celcom.

“The cellcos currently book only 94% of prepaid revenues as they absorb the 6% sales tax. Prepaid users may cut back on usage when GST is introduced as they are generally price sensitive and have tighter budgets,” it said.

Assuming that the telcos are able to recover only half the tax since some consumers would reduce their spending, DiGi’s FY15 core net profit could be lifted by 6% versus 4% for Maxis and about 3% for Axiata.

“We estimate a 4.6% or 21 sen rise in our DCF-based target price for DiGi and a 2.9% or 21 sen increase for Maxis. Axiata’s SOP-based target price would rise by 2.9% or 20 sen. We have not built this into our forecasts.

“We remain Neutral on the sector as this development would not have a significant impact on the industry’s earnings. Moreover, GST is only expected to be introduced in 2015. We prefer M1 which is the biggest beneficiary of mobile data repricing in Singapore,” said the research house.

Masa terbaik laksanakan GST




NUR JAZLAN
12 September 2013
Nur Jazlan Mohamed

Adakah Bajet 2014 yang akan dibentangkan YAB Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak selaku Menteri Kewangan Oktober ini, menyaksikan pelaksanaan Cukai Barang dan Perkhidmatan (GST).

Atau adakah kerajaan BN yang baru mendapat mandat rakyat dalam PRU13, Mei lalu, akan terus menangguhkan pelaksanaan GST ini, bagi terus memberi ruang kepada rakyat bersedia ke arah sistem cukai baru atau tunduk dengan segala putar belit pembangkang mengenai pelaksanaan sistem cukai baru ini.

Sebagai seorang akauntan bertauliah, saya sejak awal lagi menyokong penuh pelaksanaan GST ini, sejak ura-ura mengenai pelaksanaannya pada 2005. 

Sudah pasti kerajaan akan melaksanakan sistem cukai baru ini, mengikut acuan “Malaysia” dalam usaha memberikan pendapatan lebih kepada kerajaan serta memastikan kutipan cukai lebih adil terhadap semua golongan rakyat.

Walaupun GST ini, terbukti berkesan serta dilaksanakan di hampir semua negara di dunia, tetapi di Malaysia, ia terus dipolitikkan pembangkang yang berterusan ‘mencuci’ fikiran rakyat bahawa sistem cukai ini, akan membebankan mereka.

Hakikatnya, ahli-ahli politik daripada PR yang kononnya, mempunyai ramai golongan profesional mengetahui bahawa sistem cukai negara perlu distruktur semula. 

Ia berikutan peralihan ekonomi negara daripada berteraskan perindustrian kepada ekonomi berasaskan perkhidmatan dan kepenggunaan.

Untuk pengetahuan umum, jika kerajaan memilih melaksanakan sistem GST ini, ia adalah satu tindakan berani memandangkan kebanyakan kerajaan negara lain yang melaksanakan sistem cukai ini, kalah dalam pilihan raya umum negara berkenaan.

Tetapi yang memelikkan saya pula ialah kerajaan baru yang dipilih daripada pembangkang tidak menghapuskan GST ini, dan membuktikan bahawa sistem cukai berkenaan mempunyai banyak kelebihan.

Sebenarnya, dalam memacu pertumbuhan ekonomi sesebuah negara, empat faktor utama yang menjadi penentu ialah penggunaan, pelaburan, perbelanjaan kerajaan dan eksport bersih. 

Perbelanjaan kerajaan banyak bergantung kepada jumlah hasil cukai yang berjaya dikutip. Hasil cukai merupakan penyumbang utama kepada jumlah hasil kerajaan. Jika hasil cukai meningkat, kerajaan boleh melaksanakan pelbagai projek untuk menggerakkan pertumbuhan ekonomi.

Berdasarkan statistik Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) Malaysia pada 2010, nisbah hasil cukai kepada KDNK adalah 19.5 peratus dan jika dibandingkan dengan 34 negara maju, nisbah yang dicatat Malaysia adalah terlalu rendah kerana nisbah paling rendah di kalangan negara maju adalah sekitar 26 peratus.

Disebabkan nisbah hasil cukai yang rendah ini, kerajaan mengalami kekurangan hasil cukai bagi membiayai perbelanjaan pembangunan dan apabila jumlah hasil kerajaan tidak mencukupi, kedudukan kewangan kerajaan akan mengalami defisit.

Atas sebab itu, bagi menampung defisit ini, kerajaan perlu membuat pinjaman untuk membiayai perbelanjaan pembangunan dan dalam jangka masa panjang ia tidak sihat terhadap pembangunan ekonomi negara.

Sebenarnya, sistem percukaian Malaysia mempunyai asas yang sempit kerana kebergantungan yang keterlaluan kepada cukai pendapatan (individu dan korporat).

Sekiranya keuntungan syarikat berkurangan, jumlah kutipan cukai pendapatan juga berkurangan dan keadaan ini memberikan tekanan kepada hasil kerajaan.

Situasi itu diburukkan lagi dengan sikap rakyat Malaysia yang liat membayar cukai kerana daripada kira-kira 10 juta tenaga kerja di Malaysia yang seharusnya membayar cukai, hanya kira-kira 1.7 juta menjelaskan cukai pendapatan mereka.

Rakyat hanya menyedari cukai pendapatan yang dibayar terus kepada kerajaan tanpa disedari bahawa kita juga membayar cukai yang dimasukkan terus dalam harga barangan dan perkhidmatan seperti pembelian kereta, pakaian, makanan dan lain-lain barangan dan perkhidmatan yang melibatkan pengguna.

Pelaksanaan GST akan membolehkan kerajaan menurunkan kadar cukai pendapatan (individu dan korporat) dan menjadikan Malaysia lebih berdaya saing bagi menarik pelaburan asing. Kadar cukai korporat di Malaysia kini adalah 25%, iaitu lebih tinggi berbanding dengan Singapura, 17% dan Hong Kong, 16.5%.

Sebenarnya, dalam pembentangan Bajet 2013 tahun lalu, YAB Datuk Seri Najib Razak sudah memberikan gambaran bahawa kerajaan akan melaksanakan struktur percukaian baru dalam memastikan ekonomi negara terus berdaya saing.

Penstrukturan sistem cukai negara yang baru sudah tentu tidak hanya membabitkan pelaksanaan GST sebaliknya, sudah pasti kerajaan akan mengambil kira untuk menurunkan kadar cukai pendapatan terutama sekali cukai korporat yang dilihat amat tinggi serta tidak kompetitif berbanding dengan negara jiran.

Kita perlu sedar bahawa pelaksanaan GST tidak akan mengakibatkan kenaikan harga mendadak. Ia kerana GST akan menjadikan sistem percukaian negara lebih berkesan, saksama, efisien serta telus sekaligus mengelakkan berlaku cukai terselindung dan cukai bertindih.

Kaedah GST mempunyai banyak kelebihan berbanding dengan Cukai Jualan dan Perkhidmatan (SST) yang diamalkan kini. 

Pelaksanaan GST akan meningkatkan jumlah kutipan hasil Kerajaan dan seterusnya membolehkan lebih banyak projek pembangunan dilaksanakan. 

Pada masa ini, kebergantungan kepada sumber hasil berasaskan petroleum seperti cukai pendapatan petroleum, duti eksport, dividen dan lain-lain adalah tinggi iaitu kira-kira 40% daripada jumlah hasil Kerajaan.

Masalahnya, di Malaysia, persepsi lebih diterima daripada fakta, dan atas sebab itu, rakyat termakan dengan putar belit pembangkang bahawa kegagalan kerajaan menguruskan cukai yang dikutip daripada Petronas dengan telus serta berlaku banyak pembaziran dalam projek kerajaan, adalah sebab utama mengapa GST tidak boleh dilaksanakan.

Bagi pembangkang, jika duit daripada Petronas diurustadbir dengan baik, ia akan terus dapat menampung perbelanjaan kerajaan sedangkan pada hakikatnya, konsep itu sama sekali salah.

Kebergantungan terhadap Petronas sebenarnya, merupakan keadaan yang kurang sihat kerana Malaysia tidak boleh bergantung selamanya kepada sumber pendapatan berasaskan petroleum memandangkan bahan tersebut lama kelamaan akan susut.

Semua pakar ekonomi dan percukaian negara bersepakat bahawa GST adalah struktur cukai terbaik bagi terus membolehkan kerajaan membangunkan negara dengan lebih berkesan, dan walaupun banyak artikel atau ulasan positif diberikan terhadap sistem ini, ia tetap gagal mengubah persepsi rakyat bahawa GST akan membebankan mereka.

Melalui pelaksanaan GST ini, Kastam Diraja Malaysia (KDRM) serta Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN) akan dapat mengutip cukai dengan lebih efisien serta berkesan.

Ia disebabkan dalam pelaksanaan GST, terdapat satu sistem dinamakan ‘set off’ dimana setiap lapisan pengeluaran produk atau perkhidmatan yang dikenakan cukai akan ditolak semula oleh lapisan yang berikutnya.

Jadi, jika GST yang ditetapkan adalah 4 peratus, kadar cukai yang dibayar pengguna akhir iaitu rakyat adalah 4 peratus, bukan kadar cukai itu akan berganda atau bertambah seperti yang diputar belitkan pembangkang.

Tanggapan bahawa GST akan memberikan bebanan kepada pengguna juga tidak tepat memandangkan pengguna sudah dikenakan cukai SST antara 5 dan 10 peratus melainkan jika kadar GST lebih tinggi daripada cukai sedia ada.

Pada masa sekarang, rakyat tanpa mengira kelas pendapatan sebenarnya, membayar SST atas perbelanjaan harian mereka, namum cukai ini, terutama sekali cukai jualan tidak

kelihatan dalam invois atau resit kerana ia terlindung dalam harga barangan. Selain itu, kerajaan juga sudah pasti tidak mengenakan GST atau 0 peratus GST atas barang asasi seperti beras, gula, tepung, dan minyak masa serta perkhidmatan seperti elektrik, air, pendidikan dan kesihatan bagi melindungi kepentingan golongan berpendapatan rendah dan menengah.

Pengenalan GST ini, juga sudah pasti akan menjadikan sistem cukai negara lebih telus, mampan dan tidak ruang untuk dimanupulasi sekaligus mengelakkan berlaku kenaikan harga barang secara mendadak.

Melaluinya semua lapisan barangan atau perkhidmatan berkenaan daripada mula ia dikeluarkan sehinggalah sampai kepada pengguna akan dikenakan cukai GST. Ia sekaligus dapat mengelak berlaku double taxation atau multiple tax pyramid.

Pelaksanaan GST ini juga membolehkan kerajaan mengesan barangan yang dijual atau diimport di Malaysia, sudah dijelaskan cukai atau tidak, memandangkan semua pengeluar, pemborong atau peniaga perlu berdaftar dengan kerajaan melalui penggunaan teknologi maklumat (IT) yang efektif.

Pada masa sama, agensi rating antarabangsa seperti Standard and Poor’s (S&P) serta Fitch akan memberikan rating positif kepada keadaan ekonomi negara sekaligus menarik pelabur antarabangsa melabur di Malaysia berikutan iklim ekonomi negara yang sihat melalui pengenalan GST.

Alasan yang menyatakan bahawa kerajaan akan sentiasa menaikkan kadar GST juga kurang tepat kerana berdasarkan pengalaman lalu, kadar cukai jualan yang diperkenalkan pada 1972 hanya dinaikkan sekali sahaja pada 1983. 

Kadar cukai perkhidmatan pula tidak pernah dinaikkan sejak ia diperkenalkan pada tahun 1975.

Bagaimanapun, kerajaan perlu mengakui bahawa sejak GST mula hendak dilaksanakan pada 2005, kempen atau pelan komunikasi untuk menerangkan sistem cukai ini, kurang dilaksanakan.

Ia menyebabkan GST ini, menjadi modal kepada pembangkang untuk menyerang kerajaan sedangkan, jika sistem GST ini, diterang dengan lebih meluas melalui pelbagai kempen, seminar atau rancangan berbentuk perbincangan, sudah pasti rakyat menyedari kebaikan terhadap pelaksanaan GST ini.

Saya yakin bahawa rakyat akan dapat menerima pelaksanaan GST ini, dengan hati serta fikiran terbuka dan tidak mempunyai sangkaan buruk bahawa usaha ini, akan membebankan mereka.

Tambahan pula, tahun 2020 hanya tujuh tahun dari sekarang dan jika GST ini, masih gagal dilaksanakan, Malaysia boleh melupakan hasrat untuk diiktiraf sebagai sebuah negara maju.

Datuk Nur Jazlan

Penulis adalah Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kira-Kira Wang Negara (PAC), Ahli Parlimen Pulai dan Akauntan Bertauliah

* Ini adalah pendapat peribadi penulis dan tidak semestinya mewakili pandangan Sinar Harian Online.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

CTIM jangka cukai turun


Publication: BH
Date of publication: Sep 11, 2013
Section heading: Bisnes
Page number: 008
Byline / Author: Oleh Che Wan Badrul Alias

Institut Percukaian Bertauliah Malaysia (CTIM) menjangka kerajaan akan menurunkan cukai pendapatan antara tiga hingga empat peratus apabila cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan (GST) diperkenalkan kelak.

Presidennya, SM Thanneermalai, berkata pihaknya menjangka kerajaan akan mengumumkan pelaksanaanGST sebelum atau ketika pembentangan Bajet 2014 kerana ia memerlukan fasa sekurangkurangnya 18 bulan untuk dilaksanakan.

Beliau berkata, kebanyakan negara yang memperkenalkan GST sebelum ini turut mengumumkannya bersama dengan pengurangan cukai pendapatan persendirian bagi membantu golongan pertengahan menyerap sebarang kesan daripada pengenalan cukai itu.

Kumpulan pertengahan

"Kumpulan pertengahan adalah terdiri daripada pembayar cukai, maka kerajaan perlu membantu mereka dengan menawarkan pengurangan cukai pendapatan antara tiga hingga empat peratus.

"Secara purata, kelas pertengahan kini membayar cukai sekitar 18 peratus. Dengan pengurangan cukai pendapatan, mereka akan membayar cukai pada nilai kadar pertengahan iaitu kira-kira 14 peratus.

"Sementara golongan berpendapatan rendah pula, satu saluran terbaik untuk membantu mereka adalah dengan pemberian tunai secara langsung kepada golongan yang memerlukan, subsidi khusus atau bantuan kewangan yang sementara bagi sektor terjejas," katanya dalam satu pertemuan dengan BH di Kuala Lumpur.

Beliau yang juga Pengarah Eksekutif Kanan PricewaterhouseCoopers Taxation Services Sdn Bhd, berkata Malaysia perlu mengurangkan cukai pendapatan bagi memastikan negara terus berdaya saing di peringkat serantau.

Setanding negara luar

Ketika ini, cukai pendapatan negara adalah setanding dengan negara lain di rantau ini kecuali Singapura, namun pengumuman Thailand untuk mengurangkan cukai pendapatan persendirian dan korporat kepada sekitar 20 peratus dalam tempoh tiga tahun akan menjejaskan daya saing Malaysia.

"Kalau kerajaan Thailand mula komited mengurangkan cukai pendapatan, maka kita perlu memikirkan untuk mengurangkannya tidak kira sama ada kita laksanakan GST atau tidak," katanya.

Sementara itu, beliau berkata sebagai permulaan kerajaan dijangka memperkenalkan GST pada kadar enam peratus iaitu kadar yang sama bagi cukai jualan dan perkhidmatan yang dilaksanakan kini.

Katanya, nilai itu lebih rendah berbanding negara lain yang sudah melaksanakan cukai itu seperti kadar tujuh peratus di Singapura dan Thailand, 10 peratus bagi Kemboja, Indonesia, Vietnam dan Laos, manakala Filipina sebanyak 12 peratus. GST di negara Eropah pula mencecah antara 18 hingga 22 peratus.

"Semua negara utama di rantau ini sudah melaksanakan GST, hanya Malaysia saja yang belum. Justeru ia perlu diperkenalkan sebagai mekanisma percukaian yang lebih berkesan menggantikan cukai jualan dan perkhidmatan," katanya.

INFO

* Enam peratus - jangkaan kadar GST Malaysia
* 18-22 peratus - kadar GST di Eropah

GST not a tool to burden the people


Publication: NST
Date of publication: Sep 11, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 021
Byline / Author: By C.G. Tiong

IT is heartening that the director-general of the Inland Revenue Board has expressed the possibility of reducing income tax with the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST).

The GST is a broad-based tax system and a tax on consumption.

A reduction in income and corporate tax rates will spur entrepreneurship, business and growth of capital, which all countries need for growth and prosperity.

Furthermore, there is a dire need to reduce income and corporate tax rates to be in line with our neighbours.

This way, the country can stay competitive and be attractive for local and foreign investments.

Lower income and corporate tax rates will also discourage the introduction of all types of tax-saving schemes and allow business to concentrate on business.

GST should not be a tool to generate more tax revenue to burden the people.

Furthermore, many countries have introduced GST at a low rate with the hidden intent to subsequently increase the rate as an easy way of increasing revenue.

The government must assure us that this will not be the case.

The GST rate should be maintained for at least five years before any review is conducted.

Such reviews should be conducted transparently and with justification for any rate change.

However, GST revenue will always rise with the growth of the economy.

There should be no reason to increase the rate if the budget is designed with prudence.

C.G. Tiong, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Maklumkan bila GST bermula



WARTAWAN SINAR HARIAN
10 September 2013

Banyak perusahaan kecil dan sederhana yang berharap cukai korporat akan 
diturunkan dalam Bajet 2014.- Gambar hiasan 

KERAJAAN patut memaklumkan dalam Bajet 2014 bila Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) akan dilaksanakan supaya ketidaktentuan dalam pasaran dapat ditamatkan, menurut pakar cukai Lam Kwai Soon.

Kwai Soon berkata, kerajaan perlu menetapkan garis masa kerana terlalu banyak persoalan dan spekulasi yang timbul berhubung pelaksanaan GST termasuk kadar cukai itu.

"Orang ramai juga tertanya-tanya sama ada kadar cukai pendapatan akan diturunkan selepas pelaksanaan GST dan jika ya, apakah kadar baru cukai pendapatan? Semua ini mencetuskan keadaan tidak tentu dalam pasaran," katanya.

Beliau berkata, dengan garis masa yang jelas, pemilik perniagaan boleh bersedia lebih awal dan GST akan menjadi sistem yang baik untuk pembangunan jangka panjang.

Menurutnya, kerajaan juga tidak seharusnya hanya memfokus kepada memperluas asas pendapatan negara dengan melaksanakan GST tetapi juga perlu melihat kepada kawalan kos.

"Kecekapan organisasi kerajaan juga perlu diperbaiki, dengan cara itu sahaja saya rasa defisit boleh dikurangkan," katanya.

Selain itu, Kwai Soon berkata, banyak perusahaan kecil dan sederhana juga berharap akan ada penurunan dalam cukai pendapatan korporat menerusi Bajet 2014.

"Kerajaan juga perlu gunakan pendekatan yang lebih longgar berhubung pemotongan cukai dan elaun modal untuk beberapa aspek seperti ubahsuai pejabat atau yuran profesional bagi mendapatkan pembiayaan," katanya.

Beliau juga berkata, selain memberi perhatian kepada mencapai status negara berpendapatan tinggi, kerajaan perlu memberi perhatian kepada pengagihan kekayaan dalam negara.

Menurutnya, statistik menunjukkan kebanyakan rakyat Malaysia mendapat kesan negatif daripada tekanan inflasi yang tinggi.

"Lebih bermakna jika kita boleh mencapai status negara berpendapatan tinggi dan dalam masa sama memastikan ramai orang dapat menikmati pengagihan kekayaan yang lebih sama rata," katanya.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

GST dan kadar cukai


Publication: HM
Date of publication: Sep 10, 2013
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 024
Byline / Author: Oleh Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed

Adakah Bajet 2014 yang bakal dibentangkan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak selaku Menteri Kewangan Oktober ini, akan menyaksikan pelaksanaan Cukai Barang dan Perkhidmatan (GST)?

Atau adakah kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) yang baru mendapat mandat rakyat pada Pilihan Raya Umum (PRU) ke-13 Mei lalu, terus menangguhkan pelaksanaan GST ini, bagi terus memberi ruang kepada rakyat bersedia ke arah sistem cukai baru atau tunduk dengan segala putar belit pembangkang mengenai pelaksanaan sistem cukai baru ini.

Sebagai seorang akauntan bertauliah, saya sejak awal lagi menyokong penuh pelaksanaan GST, sejak ura-ura mengenai pelaksanaannya pada 2005. Sudah pasti kerajaan akan melaksanakan sistem cukai baru ini, mengikut acuan Malaysia dalam usaha memberikan pendapatan lebih kepada kerajaan serta memastikan kutipan cukai lebih adil terhadap semua golongan rakyat.

Walaupun GST terbukti berkesan serta dilaksanakan di hampir semua negara di dunia, tetapi di Malaysia, ia terus dipolitikkan pembangkang yang berterusan 'mencuci' fikiran rakyat sistem cukai ini akan membebankan mereka.

Hakikatnya, ahli politik daripada pakatan pembangkang yang kononnya dianggotai ramai profesional mengetahui bahawa sistem cukai negara perlu distruktur semula. Ia berikutan peralihan ekonomi negara daripada berteraskan perindustrian kepada ekonomi berasaskan perkhidmatan dan kepenggunaan.

Untuk pengetahuan umum, jika kerajaan memilih melaksanakan sistem GST, ia adalah satu tindakan berani memandangkan kebanyakan kerajaan negara lain yang melaksanakan sistem cukai ini, kalah pada pilihan raya umum negara masing-masing.

Empat faktor penentu

Sebenarnya, dalam memacu pertumbuhan ekonomi sesebuah negara, empat faktor utama yang menjadi penentu iaitu penggunaan, pelaburan, perbelanjaan kerajaan dan eksport bersih.

Perbelanjaan kerajaan banyak bergantung kepada jumlah hasil cukai yang berjaya dikutip. Hasil cukai merupakan penyumbang utama kepada jumlah hasil kerajaan. Jika hasil cukai meningkat, kerajaan boleh melaksanakan pelbagai projek untuk menggerakkan pertumbuhan ekonomi.

Berdasarkan statistik Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) Malaysia pada 2010, nisbah hasil cukai kepada KDNK ialah 19.5 peratus dan jika dibandingkan dengan 34 negara maju, nisbah yang dicatat Malaysia itu terlalu rendah kerana nisbah paling rendah di kalangan negara maju adalah sekitar 26 peratus.

Disebabkan nisbah hasil cukai yang rendah ini, kerajaan mengalami kekurangan hasil cukai bagi membiayai perbelanjaan pembangunan dan apabila jumlah hasil kerajaan tidak mencukupi, kedudukan kewangan kerajaan akan mengalami defisit.

Atas sebab itu, bagi menampung defisit ini, kerajaan perlu membuat pinjaman untuk membiayai perbelanjaan pembangunan dan dalam jangka masa panjang ia tidak sihat terhadap pembangunan ekonomi negara.

Sebenarnya, sistem percukaian Malaysia mempunyai asas yang sempit kerana kebergantungan yang keterlaluan kepada cukai pendapatan (individu dan korporat). Sekiranya keuntungan syarikat berkurangan, jumlah kutipan cukai pendapatan juga berkurangan dan keadaan ini memberikan tekanan kepada hasil kerajaan.

Situasi itu diburukkan lagi dengan sikap rakyat Malaysia yang liat membayar cukai kerana daripada kira-kira 10 juta orang tenaga kerja di Malaysia yang seharusnya membayar cukai, hanya kira-kira 1.7 juta menjelaskan cukai pendapatan mereka.

Rakyat hanya menyedari cukai pendapatan yang dibayar terus kepada kerajaan tanpa sedar kita juga membayar cukai yang dimasukkan terus dalam harga barangan dan perkhidmatan seperti pembelian kereta, pakaian, makanan dan barangan dan perkhidmatan lain yang melibatkan pengguna.

Pelaksanaan GST akan membolehkan kerajaan menurunkan kadar cukai pendapatan (individu dan korporat) dan menjadikan Malaysia lebih berdaya saing bagi menarik pelaburan asing. Kadar cukai korporat di Malaysia kini ialah 25 peratus, iaitu lebih tinggi berbanding Singapura, 17 peratus dan Hong Kong 16.5 peratus.

Sebenarnya, pada pembentangan Bajet 2013 lalu, Perdana Menteri sudah memberikan gambaran bahawa kerajaan akan melaksanakan struktur percukaian baru dalam memastikan ekonomi negara terus berdaya saing.

Penstrukturan sistem cukai negara yang baru sudah tentu tidak hanya membabitkan pelaksanaan GSTsebaliknya, sudah pasti kerajaan akan mengambil kira untuk menurunkan kadar cukai pendapatan terutama sekali cukai korporat yang dilihat tinggi serta tidak kompetitif berbanding negara jiran.

Elak cukai bertindih

Kita perlu sedar bahawa pelaksanaan GST tidak akan mengakibatkan kenaikan harga mendadak. Ini kerana GST akan menjadikan sistem percukaian negara lebih berkesan, saksama, efisien serta telus sekali gus mengelakkan berlaku cukai terselindung dan cukai bertindih.

Kaedah GST mempunyai banyak kelebihan berbanding dengan Cukai Jualan dan Perkhidmatan (SST) yang diamalkan kini. Pelaksanaan GST akan meningkatkan jumlah kutipan hasil kerajaan dan seterusnya membolehkan lebih banyak projek pembangunan dilaksanakan.

Melalui pelaksanaan GST, Kastam Diraja Malaysia (KDRM) serta Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN) akan dapat mengutip cukai dengan lebih efisien dan berkesan.

Ini disebabkan dalam pelaksanaan GST, terdapat satu sistem dinamakan 'set off' di mana setiap lapisan pengeluaran produk atau perkhidmatan yang dikenakan cukai akan ditolak semula oleh lapisan yang berikutnya.

Jadi, jika GST yang ditetapkan adalah empat peratus, kadar cukai yang dibayar pengguna akhir iaitu rakyat adalah empat peratus, bukan kadar cukai itu akan berganda atau bertambah seperti yang diputarbelitkan pembangkang.

Tanggapan GST akan memberikan bebanan kepada pengguna juga tidak tepat memandangkan pengguna sudah dikenakan cukai SST antara lima hingga 10 peratus, melainkan jika kadar GST lebih tinggi daripada cukai sedia ada.

Selain itu, kerajaan sudah pasti tidak mengenakan GST atas barang asasi seperti beras, gula, tepung, dan minyak masak serta perkhidmatan seperti elektrik, air, pendidikan dan kesihatan bagi melindungi golongan berpendapatan rendah dan menengah.

Penulis adalah Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kira-Kira Wang Negara (PAC), Ahli Parlimen Pulai dan Akauntan Bertauliah

Monday, September 9, 2013

Benefits of GST far outweigh the costs


Publication: NST
Date of publication: Sep 9, 2013
Section heading: Business Times
Page number: 002
Byline / Author: By Zaidi Isham Ismail

MUCH has been said and written about the goods and services tax (GST). Of course the GST is not perfect, but its benefits far outweigh the costs.

GST can lead to lower prices

RAM Holdings group chief executive Dr Yeah Kim Leng said with the removal of the five per cent sales tax and six per cent services tax, prices of goods can be lowered because manufacturers will be able to lower the cost of production and get rebates, which in turn translate into savings that will be passed on to consumers.

GST can lower income tax

The implementation of GST can be good news for taxpayers as it may see the country's corporate and income tax rates reduced, said Inland Revenue Board chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Mohd Shukor Mahfar.

GST can reduce business uncertainties

PricewaterhouseCoopers Taxation Services Sdn Bhd senior executive director Wan Heng Choon said implementing GST early will help reduce business uncertainties.

Firms are unable to make decisions and start projects due to uncertainties in the implementation of GST. There has been more than sufficient time for the implementation and we need foreign direct investments.

GST can free up Petronas money

Malaysia has been too dependent on revenue generated by Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas). GST will help reduce the national oil firm's burden and allow it to channel the monies to other actitivties, such as buying stakes in other oil firms and bolstering oil exploration activities worldwide.

The lower-income group will get higher BR1M

The government has given the assurance to help the lower-income group by giving out higher 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M) payments. Their needs are also being addressed by various schemes, such as vouchers for fuel.

Spare a thought for the 1.2 million registered taxpayers

There are 1.2 million registered taxpayers out of 13 million working Malaysians. When it comes to paying taxes, the 1.2 million bear the burden.

The tax burden should fall equally on all income groups and the government has to rebalance overall tax efficiency.

In conclusion, the government is faced with uncertain global economic conditions and a rising expenditure and widening budget deficit.

It has no choice but to implement GST, which is expected to be announced under the 2014 Budget and could be implemented as early as 2015.

The poor should not be afraid.

Surely, a GST which has already been implemented in 170 countries cannot be that bad.

Economists say GST likely to be implemented in 2015


Published: Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Saturday September 7, 2013 MYT 9:38:48 AM
BY FINTAN NG FINTAN@THESTAR.COM.MY

MALAYSIA is a laggard where implementation of a goods and services tax (GST) or value added tax (VAT) is concerned but the state of public finances will now hasten the implementation once the necessary legislative process passes it.

The market expects that when the Budget 2014 is tabled in Parliament in late October, a timeline for the long-postponed GST will be announced.

Most economists believe the GST will be implemented in 2015 assuming a lead time of between 18 and 24 months when the ecosystem for the GST is put in place while businesses and consumers are duly notified.


The GST will replace the existing sales tax of between 5% and 10% and the service tax of 6%. Whether or not the Government will reduce the income tax rates or introduce more tax reliefs is still unclear at this point especially given the state of public finances.

In recent history, the GST was first announced during Budget 2005 for implementation in 2007. But in February 2006, the implementation was deferred as the Government wanted more time to get feedback from the public.

Then the GST bill was tabled for first reading in late 2009 for implementation in the third quarter of 2011. The bill was supposed to go for the second reading in March 2010 but was withdrawn after facing opposition.

If the GST bill becomes law, Malaysia will finally join the 146 countries which have GST or VAT by 2015. She will also be joining the seven out of the 10 members of Asean which have either GST or VAT.

Therefore, the announcement during the tabling of Budget 2014 will be widely watched as international investors, forewarned by rating analysts from Fitch Ratingsand Moody’s Investor Services, will want to see how sincere the Government is in its efforts to bring down the budget deficit.

There is opposition to the GST, rightly or wrongly. Lack of knowledge and transparency are some of the issues that will have to be dealt with since this tax is broad-based tax and affects all consumers.

Ernst & Young Malaysia tax leader Yeo Eng Ping tells StarBizWeek that once the GST implementation is announced, the regulators will likely see heightened demand for finalisation of certain policy positions and clarity on the regulatory processes.

“We also expect the Government’s GST public relations machinery to be in full swing to inform and educate the general public,” she says, adding that businesses may have a broad idea of how GST will work but have not fully assessed the effects nor possess the detailed mechanics on how to become GST-ready in an efficient and risk-managed manner.

“Public acceptance and education will be the key areas to work on. The Government must ensure that its GST awareness programmes are far-reaching and all-encompassing so that the public is equipped with the requisite understanding, which will in turn promote acceptance and compliance,” Yeo says.

She adds that for businesses, it will be important for them to continue to have avenues to regulators to address specific industry issues, including clarification of grey areas, before the implementation date.

According to a recent report by CIMB Investment Bank Bhd economic research headLee Heng Guie, how the GST impacts prices will depend on the rate. If the rate is 4% as widely speculated, then the consumer price index will see a half-percentage point increase. Lee says if the rate is 5%, then there could be a 1.2% increase while a rate of 6% will see a 1.9% increase.

Others such as BDO Malaysia tax advisory head David Lai says whether the GST is inflationary is debatable as the country already has existing sales and service taxes.

Yeo says there is evidence that the introduction of GST in other countries has been accompanied by a slight increase in inflation, which then tapers over time as businesses and the public adjust to the environment.

“Equally important will be the need to ensure that overall prices are adjusted appropriately, with proper enforcement of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2010 to curb profiteering acts of unscrupulous traders and business organisations,” she says.

PwC Taxation Services Malaysia senior executive director Wan Heng Choon expects the Government to embark on an extensive awareness and education programme to address the misconception that GST will by itself increase prices.

“I understand that the authorities have already simulated the potential impact of implementing GST on a range of goods and services. This should be released to guide businesses and consumers before the GST implementation date,” he says.

Wan says some prices will fall while others will rise depending on the ability of businesses to recover GST compared to the current sales and service tax.

He points out that the GST presents an opportunity for businesses to reduce their operating costs which in turn gives them the ability to lower selling prices.

“This is critical. If businesses do not see this or do not pass on the potential savings to the consumer, the price lowering potential of GST will not materialise. Prices of some goods and services may increase because they were not previously taxable,” Wan says.

Moreover, he says the experience in other countries that introduced a VAT or GST is mixed where prices are concerned. “It is not supported by empirical data that the introduction of a GST has a prolonged effect on the increase in prices. The trend seems to be a hike just after implementation and a return to “normal” after 12 to 18 months,” Wan says.

However, the experts agree that some temporary disruption to consumption may occur as people adjust to the new prices.

Lai says in an email reply that there may be some short-term effects on consumption patterns as consumers will compare and decide whether it is beneficial to accelerate purchases before the implementation date.

“The GST effects would be different for different goods and services. From our Australian experience, it is important for retailers to study and communicate the effect of GST on their pricing to consumers in advance,” he says.

Will income tax be adjusted lower?

This is an important question for the estimated 1.7 million tax payers in the country. BDO’s Lai says any reduction in income tax rates will depend on the GST rate and this adjustment will only be implemented gradually in line with economic growth.

“At 4% the government does not expect an immediate substantial increase in revenue compared to the current sales and service tax,” he says.

Lai says other countries such as Singapore have gradually increased their GST rate in tandem with reduction of income tax rates.

Timeline needed for Malaysian fiscal reforms


Published: Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 6:42:46 AM
CORPORATE NOTES BY GURMEET KAUR

Less than 7 years to meet balanced budget by 2020

MUCH is being talked about the country’s finances and what should, could and would need to be done to fix things.

While one can argue about past mistakes, here’s a simple view on what needs to be done now.

The Government needs to set a timeline to execute fiscal reforms to assure investors that it has the political will to do so.

Any delay in setting such timelines and implementing them will be detrimental to the economy and financial markets.

For some time now, economists have been cautioning policymakers about the need to keep an eye on the country’s debt-to-GDP, which stands at 53%. No one doubts that one basic thing that needs to be done in this context is to rationalise the country’s rather generous government-funded subsidies.

Recall when the subsidy rationalisation programme was proposed under theGovernment Transformation Programme, it was supposed to have been gradually removed on a staggered basis.

Time is running out as we have to meet the Government’s commitment to cut the deficit to 3% by 2015 and have less than seven years to meet a balanced budget by 2020. And benefits of any reform show through after a lag.

The goods and services tax (GST), which has been delayed for several years, looks set to be implemented in 2015. A higher real estate property gains tax (RPGT) is also on the cards to rein in runaway house prices as part of a big scheme to address the nation’s structural issues.

But to get the buy-in from the people and businesses, the Government also needs to exercise frugality in its operating expenses, which makes up over 80% of spending. It should plug wastages and leakages in government procurement process and institute open tenders.

There should be greater transparency and accountability with regards to how public funds are used.

It is no secret the perception is that we have not done enough in fighting corruption.

While taking all the effort to put GST and RPGT into place, and removing or lowering subsidies and facing the possible backlash from the masses for these moves, it is interesting to juxtapose these new incomes or savings with the amount of money that leaks out of the Government’s coffers as outlined in the cases in the yearly Auditor-General’s Report.

Also, it has been highlighted that the subsidy savings from the recent fuel hike will be eaten up by the Government’s move to continue and increase its cash handouts via the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia programme.

While there is an urgent need to accelerate reforms, it will be good to see the Government stepping up reforms in “soft infrastructure” in the areas of skills and education, which are just as important to an economy’s future success like “hard infrastructure” such as the MRT project. Countries need to compete on skills not only at the top levels, but at the medium levels too.

Perhaps it is also time to review the National Service Training Programme to see whether it has met the goals to instill national unity and patriotism.

If not, then shouldn’t the resources be channelled to something more productive?

Two other areas the Government should not compromise on is affordable housing and public healthcare as these would help ease the burden of the middle- and lower-income groups. Many years ago, a proposal to reform the healthcare sector was mooted in the form of a health financing scheme that were to encompass cross subsidies, greater cost-sharing and protection of specific groups of people but it never took off.

Deputy news editor GURMEET KAUR is glad to hear that the Government is placing more importance on the English language under the newly-launched Malaysia Education Blueprint.

Minister: Budget 2014 set to address wealth disparity


Published: Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 6:43:06 AM
BY MANJIT KAUR MANJIT@THESTAR.COM.MY

IPOH: Budget 2014, due to be tabled by the middle of next month, is aimed at reducing the gap between the country’s rich and the poor, said Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

The middle-income group is set to benefit the most from next year’s national budget, he said without elaborating.

Ahmad Husni said the Govern­ment’s main aim in the budget was to bring down the country’s deficit by 3% to 5% next year.

“Whether in the form of reducing subsidies, implementing goods and services tax (GST) or other initiatives, the end objective is the well-being of the people.

“We are looking at several approaches,” he said, adding that the people would understand the rationalisation of subsidies and where the country was heading when the budget was tabled.

Ahmad Husni, who is Tambun MP, said the Government would be saving RM24bil by reducing petrol, diesel and gas subsidies, which were basically enjoyed by the higher and middle-income groups.

“The money saved can be allocated for the development of the country, especially with the Government focusing more on affordable housing schemes,” he told reporters at the Tambun parliamentary Merdeka celebrations in Tanjung Rambutan, near here, yesterday.

He said Sabah and Sarawak as well as many parts of the peninsula still lacked proper infrastructure.

“Imagine the billions we can save by further reducing petrol and diesel subsidies as well as other subsidies which can total RM30bil,” he added.

Ahmad Husni said the money saved from further reduction of subsidies could be used for innovation, creativity and research and development activities as future investments.

Older Perak folk want Budget 2014 to address issues pertaining to the increase in crime and high cost of living


Published: Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM 
Updated: Monday September 9, 2013 MYT 8:27:07 AM
STORY AND PHOTOS BY CHERYL HEW CHERYLHEW@THESTAR.COM.MY

More policemen: Some want more policemen and patrols
to help bring down the crime rate.

THE rising cost of living and crime rate are the main concerns of the older folk in Perak as they wait for the tabling of Budget 2014 next month.

Retiree Choong Lee Chong, 63, was of the opinion that the Government should take measures to ensure the price of basic necessities remained in the reach of those from the lower income group.

“The price of goods and inflation keeps on rising while the income of many remain the same.

“However, the Government must conduct in-depth studies to determine areas where subsidies could be best implemented and not squander away our country’s finances,” he said.

Tuition teacher B. Rajan, 56, said the tabling of the Budget was a means for the Government to analyse the outcomes of the measures implemented in previous budgets, discover any shortcomings and come up with better solutions.

“Ask anyone about their problems and you would find that most of the issues stem from the rising cost of living and the financial burden it places on the people.

“Just look at how many people lined up at petrol stations to fill their cars before the RM0.20 petrol price hike.

“It shows that even RM0.20 means a lot to them,” he said.

Salesman Tan Kok Liang, in his thirties, hoped that the Government would not announce the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST) in Budget 2014.

He said the tax would be a financial burden to many people, whose salary increment was minimal.

“When price of goods are high, people will cut down on their spending.

“This would cause business in malls, hypermarkets, grocery stores and restaurants to reduce.

“A reduction in purchasing power will be bad for the economy in the long run,” he said.

Tan opined that Malaysians would not be ready to accept GST as long as their salaries were not readjusted.

Former teacher Sawaran Kaur, 59, said the escalating crime rate throughout the country was among the issues that concerned her most these days.

“We cannot even leave our houses without fearing for our lives because of the rampant shootings and how easy it is for criminals to obtain firearms.

“While most shootings are related to gang disputes, innocent people may still get caught between the crossfire.

“I think the Government should introduce measures to beef up the country’s security and maybe hire more policemen to protect its citizens,” she said.

Engineer Hafiz Mohizan, 45, suggested that the Government implement a nationwide programme to install more closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at crime hotspots that would aid in the capture of criminals.

“While I believe our policemen are doing their best to combat crime, they might be hindered in their investigations due to lack of evidence and manpower.

“The Government should make full use of scientific and technological advancements to aid in the fight against crime and bring a measure of peace to the country,” he said.

Manager Adelyn Yee, 46, said greater emphasis should be placed on maintaining cleanliness in cities and tourist destinations.

“We have many beautiful tourist spots around the country and the Government rightfully introduces many programmes aimed at attracting foreign and local tourists there.

“However, the problems of litterbugs and vandals still exist and bring shame to the country whenever tourists see rubbish or graffiti strewn all over the otherwise idyllic attractions.

“It is high time they carry out a thorough approach in tackling these problems instead of just sweeping them under the carpet,” she said.

Tanggungjawab atasi populariti



ARKIB : 08/09/2013
Oleh Rohami Shafie

BAHANG ekoran kenaikan harga minyak yang diumumkan oleh kerajaan minggu ini masih terasa. Perdebatan dan perbincangan serta rasa tidak puas hati di kalangan rakyat jelas kelihatan di blog-blog dan laman-laman sosial.

Terdapat golongan yang hanya mahukan segala-galanya murah. Kalau boleh diberi percuma. Dalam dunia materialistik dan mementingkan diri ini mana mungkin segala-galanya murah dan percuma kecuali yang dikurniakan oleh Allah SWT.

Masalahnya diri sendiri mahu murah tetapi untuk orang lain tidak langsung dipedulikan. Tanyalah peniaga-peniaga yang berkemungkinan besar menaikkan harga barangan dan perkhidmatan ekoran kenaikan harga minyak, pastinya mereka juga akan berasa tidak puas hati jika terpaksa membeli barangan keperluan dengan harga yang semakin mahal.

Sudah menjadi lumrah, kebelakangan ini, apabila harga minyak naik, harga barangan lain juga dinaikkan serta merta. Amaran demi amaran dibuat oleh pihak berkuasa tidak langsung diendahkan.

Tidak ramai peniaga yang benar-benar berniaga demi masyarakat. Yang ramai, mahu kaut untung cepat agar cepat kaya. Inilah yang menjadi kebimbangan dan kegelisahan rakyat apabila harga minyak naik.

Sebab itulah isu kenaikan harga minyak boleh membangkitkan kemarahan rakyat. Kalau setakat harga minyak sahaja naik, tidaklah begitu ketara kemarahan rakyat.

Yang menerima akibatnya pastinya kerajaan, walhal untuk menangani isu harga minyak ini bukanlah mudah seperti disangka oleh rakyat biasa. Rakyat perlu diberi penerangan sewajarnya.

Sebaik-baiknya berilah penerangan sebelum harga minyak dinaikkan. Beri pemahaman yang sejelas-jelasnya bahawa kerajaan menaikkan harga minyak setelah mengkaji baik buruknya.

Kerajaan tidak mungkin menaikkan harga minyak tanpa mengkajinya sebaik mungkin. Kelembapan ekonomi negara-negara Barat, pengurangan rangsangan ekonomi AS, dan berkemungkinan tindakan ketenteraan AS dan sekutu-sekutunya ke atas negara Syria serta faktor ekonomi dan kewangan negara adalah penyebab-penyebab utama harga minyak dirasionalisasikan.

Dalam konteks ekonomi dan kewangan negara, subsidi yang tinggi meningkatkan defisit fiskal. Defisit bermaksud perbelanjaan melebihi pendapatan. Defisit semakin tinggi apabila perbelanjaan semakin meningkat mengatasi pendapatan sedia ada.

Dengan kata mudah, apabila harga minyak dunia meningkat, kerajaan terpaksa meningkatkan subsidi untuk mengekalkan harga minyak pada kadar RM1.90. Peningkatan subsidi ini akan meningkatkan defisit fiskal.

Apabila defisit fiskal meningkat kerajaan terpaksa membuat pinjaman. Hutang semakin tidak terkawal jika sekiranya jumlahnya terlalu tinggi. Sampai satu tahap, kerajaan tidak mampu membayar kembali hutang tersebut. Kemelesetan ekonomi akan berlaku.

Ramai yang akan menganggur dan tidak mampu menyara kehidupan seharian. Semakin ramai rakyat yang terdesak untuk menyara hidup seharian, semakin bertambahlah rakyat yang akan bangun memberontak. Akhirnya negara tidak stabil.

Kacau bilau dijangka berlaku dengan berleluasa. Jenayah juga akan semakin parah. Asalnya hanyalah sekadar isu kecil kerana kerajaan mahu kekal popular dengan menyenangkan hati rakyat tetapi ia boleh merebak menjadi barah tahap keempat jika tidak diurus dengan baik.

Kerajaan yang baik adalah kerajaan yang bertanggungjawab kepada rakyat dan sentiasa istiqamah dalam menyatakan kebenaran. Kerajaan tidak boleh sekadar dahagakan populariti. Demi kelangsungan rakyat dan negara, tanggungjawab mengatasi populariti.

Sasaran defisit fiskal pada tahun ini adalah pada kadar empat peratus. Perlu diingat, baru-baru ini sebuah badan penarafan antarabangsa telah menurunkan penarafan kredit Malaysia. Sebaik sahaja penarafan diturunkan, pasaran saham kita turun dengan banyaknya dan pada masa yang sama ringgit semakin lemah berbanding Dollar AS.

Bayangkan apa akan berlaku jika sekiranya defisit fiskal semakin tinggi, hutang kerajaan semakin melebar dan tidak terkawal, pastinya badan-badan penarafan antarabangsa akan semakin menurunkan penarafan mereka ke atas negara kita ke tahap paling rendah.

Subsidi

Maruah negara akan tercalar. Ketika inilah ‘ah long-ah long’ antarabangsa akan cucuk jarum dengan menghulurkan "bantuan" kepada negara tetapi sudah tentunya bersyarat. Apa lagi kalau bukan kena ikut telunjuk mereka!

Bermaksud keputusan negara ditentukan oleh orang asing. Negara akan dijajah semula. Bukan dengan ketenteraan tetapi dengan penjajahan ekonomi.

Selain penerangan di atas, kenaikan harga minyak boleh mengurangkan penyeludupan minyak ke negara jiran. Minyak adalah hasil bumi yang terhad. Penggunaan yang tidak dikawal boleh merugikan generasi masa hadapan.

Sebaliknya, harga minyak dunia tidak boleh dikawal kerana ia ditentukan oleh pasaran. Subsidi yang banyak ke atas minyak boleh merugikan rakyat secara keseluruhannya.

Dahulu, bolehlah subsidi dikekalkan ke atas harga minyak kerana harganya stabil. Jumlah kenderaan pula tidaklah begitu banyak di atas jalan raya. Tetapi kini kenderaan semakin bertambah banyak.

Buktinya plat kenderaan Wilayah Persekutuan pun sudah hampir sampai ke plat WYY 9999. Tidak cukup dengan bukti ini, lihatlah kesesakan lalu lintas ketika rakyat Malaysia balik ke kampung sempena cuti perayaan.

Menyalurkan subsidi minyak kepada semua orang juga bermaksud memberi kemudahan subsidi kepada orang kaya dan warga asing. Yang kaya tidak memerlukan subsidi.

Begitu juga, warga asing pula tidak patut ‘makan’ wang rakyat Malaysia. Wang subsidi tersebut perlu diberikan kepada rakyat Malaysia yang lebih memerlukan.

Dalam konteks ini, apa yang perlu kerajaan lakukan ialah dengan mengurangkan kesan negatifnya ke atas rakyat kebanyakan.

Buat golongan berpendapatan rendah, kerajaan sentiasa memberi bantuan kepada mereka. Penjimatan subsidi minyak akan disalurkan kepada mereka dengan peningkatan jumlah Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M). Bagaimana pula dengan golongan pertengahan? Bantuan bagaimanakah yang dimahukan oleh mereka?

Sebelum bercakap mengenai bantuan berkenaan, lebih baik kerajaan mendefinasikan golongan pertengahan. Adakah yang berpendapatan RM10,000 sebulan dikategorikan berpendapatan sederhana? Atau setakat bergaji RM7,000 sahaja? Atau ada cara lain untuk mendefinasikannya?

Usah tersilap mendefinasikan golongan pertengahan kerana jika tersilap akan berlakunya ketidakadilan dalam memberi bantuan kepada mereka. Bentuk bantuan bagaimanakah yang diperlukan oleh mereka?

Saya ada membuat kajian secara rambang dengan golongan ini. Rata-rata terdapat tiga aspek paling penting yang perlu diutamakan oleh kerajaan untuk mengurangkan beban golongan pertengahan.

Pertama, perumahan mampu milik. Skim perumahan ini perlu diperluaskan ke seluruh Malaysia. Di samping itu, kerajaan perlu mengekang kenaikan harga rumah dengan menaikkan cukai keuntungan hartanah (CKHT). Dicadangkan CKHT 30 peratus dipanjangkan melebihi dua tahun, contohnya lima tahun.

Dengan cara ini, spekulator tidaklah mengaut keuntungan besar dalam tempoh jangka masa pendek. Harga rumah juga boleh distabilkan. Apabila harga rumah stabil, ramai rakyat Malaysia mampu membeli rumah.

Perlu diingat, kerancakan sektor hartanah akan menyebabkan ekonomi kita akan semakin baik. Tempias dan manfaatnya akan dirasai oleh sektor-sektor lain kerana pastinya pemilik baru rumah tersebut akan banyak berbelanja untuk membeli barang-barang keperluan rumah idamannya.

Selain CKHT, duti setem juga patut dikurangkan bersama-sama dengan penghapusan deposit membeli rumah. Ramai anak-anak muda tidak mampu menyediakan deposit membeli rumah. Bayangkan kalau rumah berharga RM400,000, jumlah depositnya adalah RM40,000!

Mana nak dapat duit sebanyak itu bagi golongan muda yang baru berkahwin dan baru sahaja bekerja? Selain itu, kurangkan faedah pinjaman perumahan bagi golongan yang pertama kali membeli rumah. Kerajaan boleh menetapkan kadar faedah tersebut pada kadar yang lebih rendah dengan kerjasama bank-bank tempatan. Ini juga banyak meringankan beban pembeli rumah.

Kedua, pengangkutan. Dicadangkan cukai jalan dihapuskan terutamanya bagi pembelian kereta nasional. Paling utama, kurangkan tol meskipun mustahil untuk menghapuskannya. Pengurangan tol akan memberi kebaikan kepada ramai pihak. Rakyat dan juga peniaga.

Peniaga juga tiada lagi alasan untuk menaikkan harga barangan. Ini kerana kos pengangkutan akan berkurangan semula apabila kadar tol dikurangkan. Peningkatan kos pengangkutan ekoran subsidi minyak dirasionalisasikan akan kembali berkurangan apabila kadar tol dikurangkan.

Ketiga, makanan. Cadangan kerajaan untuk menghapuskan orang tengah dan memperluaskan permit import barangan pertanian akan mengurangkan kos barangan pertanian yang akan dibeli oleh pengguna. Selain itu, berkeraslah dengan peniaga yang degil menaikkan harga barangan dan perkhidmatan.

Selain ketiga-tiga aspek di atas, dicadangkan juga kerajaan mengurangkan cukai pendapatan golongan pertengahan dan meningkatkan pelepasan individu dan anak-anak.

Aspek-aspek lain seperti kos perubatan yang semakin tinggi juga tidak boleh sesekali diabaikan. Untuk menampung kekurangan pendapatan kerajaan, sudah sampai masanya cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan (GST) dilaksanakan. Ini bagi memperluaskan lagi pendapatan kerajaan tanpa hanya bergantung kepada hasil minyak negara semata-mata.

Walau apa pun pengumuman yang akan dibuat oleh kerajaan dalam Bajet 2014 nanti, biarlah ia berada dalam situasi menang-menang di antara kedudukan kewangan negara dan kepentingan membela nasib rakyat. Justeru, tindakan kerajaan merasionalisasikan subsidi minyak bukanlah untuk membebankan rakyat tetapi realitinya itulah keputusan terbaik demi rakyat dan negara.




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