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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Educate people about GST, fast

Publication: NST
Date of publication: May 5, 2014
Section heading: Business Times
Page number: 002
Byline / Author: By Zaidi Isham Ismail

MALAYSIA, along with the rest of the world, celebrated Workers Day last Thursday to honour some 13 million of the country's workforce in the civil and private sectors.

Sadly, the opposition used the public holiday as a platform to protest against the goods and services tax (GST), which will be enforced in April next year.

Judging from news reports, it is clear that some of the rakyat who participated in the demonstration did not even know what GST is all about.

Now is not the time for fingerpointing and the opposition should have not used the event to mislead the rakyat.

The authorities, on the other hand, must intensify efforts to explain GST to the rakyat - fast.

It is disturbing to see a protester accusing the government of taxing everything under the sun when she did not even have a clue that basic items, such as sugar, rice and flour, are tax-exempt.

Another protester did not even know that the GST would replace the inefficient sales and service tax.

It was heartening when Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said over the weekend the government would appoint officials to explain to the rakyat about GST.

To recap, here are some salient points of GST:

- GST is not an additional tax as it will replace the sales and service tax;

- The government cannot rely solely on Petroliam Nasional Bhd for money. It has to diversify sources of income and GST is one option;

- In order to get GST rebates, business operators must register with the authorities, unlike the sales and service tax, which is full of loopholes. Restaurant operators could charge customers but not remit the money to the government;

- GST is a consumption tax. The more the customers use, the more they have to pay;

- GST will ensure that all Malaysians pay tax; and,

- GST is already implemented in more than 160 countries.

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