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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sarawak’s rights not affected by GST

by Johnson K Saai, Posted on January 30, 2014, Thursday
Abang Johari (right) walking side by side with Ahmad followed by others
when arriving at Dewan Kompleks Islam Sarawak where the event was held. — Photo by Chimon Upon.
Federal government to consult state before implementation

KUCHING: The federal government will consult Sarawak government on the goods and service tax (GST) before its implementation on April 1, 2015.

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said the federal government was fully aware that Sabah and Sarawak had special rights to impose service and sales tax on certain services and goods that they produced.

He said the two parties would certainly need to sit down and discuss how the new system could be implemented without affecting the special rights of the two states.

“Under Article 95B of the Federal Constitution, the Sarawak state government,for example, can impose sales tax on products and services,” Ahmad told reporters during a media conference yesterday.

The deputy minister said this in response to Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg’s suggestion in his speech at the closing of the National Economic Empowerment (PENA) seminar here.

Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari, who was representing Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, said a further discussion and consultation between the federal and state governments was necessary to fine-tune the mechanics of tax collection before the implementation of GST.

“Before the new system is put into use it has to be fine-tuned because under the federal constitution Sabah and Sarawak are given the special rights to impose service and sales tax on certain services and goods.

“So with the good intention of the government to broaden its revenue base, it is also pertinent that the state is bound to safeguard its autonomy arising from the implementation of GST,” Ahmad Maslan said.

On the seminar, he said it was a continuation of the nationwide road shows to explain the government’s economic empowerment programme to the people at large.

He said such seminar was important to enable the people at all levels to fully understand the government’s policies and plans.

“Our hope is that this seminar on GST and related issues can be held at other places throughout the state in order to create greater awareness and understanding among the people on the subject.”

He also advised the 1,500 (seminar) participants from the various government departments and agencies to share the information and knowledge they gained from the seminar with those who did not come.

The event yesterday was organised by State Planning Unit (SPU) of the Chief Minister Department with its director Datu Ismawi Ismuni as the organising chairman.

Also present at the closing yesterday were several assistant ministers, assemblymen and community leaders.

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