Thursday, 20 March 2014 10:00 P Prem Kumar
Nearly 16,000 restaurants will immediately collect the 6% Goods and Services Tax (GST) upon its implementation in April 2015, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said. In comparison, just 4,357 restaurants collect the Sales and Services Tax for the government.
“The reason for the increase is because the GST is applicable to businesses with annual sales of RM500,000 against the SST which sets the annual threshold at RM3 million,” he told reporters at Parliament yesterday.
He said more publicity campaigns will be carried out by the Treasury and Royal Malaysian Customs to ensure Malaysians have a better understanding of the GST.
While admitting the new tax will increase the cost of doing business in Malaysia, Ahmad said the government has introduced various me-thods to mitigate the cost incurred by businesses, especially by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
He said the GST will also cause a short-term hike in the consumer price index at 1.8%, however, this will still be below the unhealthy range.
“Even the apparels that we are wearing have taxes of 5% to 10%, taxed at manufacturing. After the GST, the tax at the manufacturer will be abolished and the 6% GST will come on board.
“Thus, it is wrong to conclude that prices of all items will increase after the GST.
That shows more understanding is needed, especially among the middle class citizens,” Ahmad added.
He said up to February this year, some 4,967 GST awareness and training programmes were held nationwide, attended by 271,288 participants.
He pointed out that based on a survey by the Customs, individuals earning below RM1,000 spend more than 33.4% from the income on food and 31.4% on housing, water, electric and fuel.
“Almost all the items in the 64.8% is exempted from the GST,” the deputy minister said.
Meanwhile, Ahmad said 55 companies — appointed by the Customs — are working on the GST software to be installed by all companies and businesses.
He said the roll out of such software has yet to be determined but emphasised that all businesses must install the software in order to file tax details and return claims.
The government will allocate RM150 million in subsidy for SMEs to install the software. The price of the software will be determined by the developers, he added.
“The subsidy will come in two phases, which is RM125 million for businesses which install the software this year and RM25 million next year.
“We are allocating RM98 million for the GST computerised system which have been developed by the Customs.
“The 55 companies will develop their respective software products based on the guidelines released by the Treasury.
The price will then be determined by them based on the market,” Ahmad said.
He also said another RM100 million will be allocated as grants by the Finance Ministry for GST implementation training programmes for businesses.
The GST is in line with the government’s commitment to reduce its budget deficit, with the view of achieving a balanced budget in 2020.
The GST will be introduced as a replacement tax, to take over the Sales Tax and Services Tax introduced in 1972 and 1975 respectively.
Malaysia’s 6% GST will be the lowest in Asean compared to Singapore (7%), Thailand (7%), Indonesia (10%), the Philippines (12%), Laos (10%), Vietnam (10%) and Cambodia (10%).