BN stole GST refunds, Guan Eng insists
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today maintained that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government “stole” refunds from the goods and services tax (GST) which should have been returned to businesses.
(FMT) – He said this at a forum on the 2020 Budget here while explaining the RM30 billion, one-off special dividend the government had received from national oil company Petronas last year.
He had been asked by the moderator for assurance that Putrajaya would not “raid” Petronas again.
“I take exception to the use of the word ‘raid’ because we were using the dividends from Petronas to pay back the GST refunds,” he said.
“This was actually stolen by the previous government because they used it and did not return it to the taxpayers.”
Lim said the important thing was that the government had refunded what businesses had not been able to get back for the past five years.
“But why was this not highlighted previously?” he asked.
“Only after the change in government did the businesses get back what was due to them.”
Last year, Lim said in the Dewan Rakyat that the BN administration had “robbed” the people of RM19.4 billion in GST refunds. However, the Public Accounts Committee which looked into the issue said no refunds were missing.
It said the money was transferred into the Consolidated Revenue Account instead of the GST Refund Account, and used for operational and development expenditure.
PAC said the transfer of funds was a violation of the Goods and Services Tax Act 2014, although former prime minister and finance minister Najib Razak insisted it was allowed under the GST Act.
Lim also dismissed concerns over the transition of power in Putrajaya, saying both Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim are “satisfied” about the matter.
“Why are others dissatisfied?” he added. “They have been very consistent over the past 16 months.”
On the new income tax band of 30% for those who earn RM2 million annually, Lim said the proposal came from the World Bank which noted that Malaysia’s tax band for the wealthy was too low.
“Even with that proposal, we are still too low compared to other countries,” he said, adding that the World Bank had recommended a rate of 35%.
But he said the government believed such an increase would be too harsh.
He said the government expects to raise some RM100 million from the new tax band, which is a 2% increase from the previous 28% tax band.
He also said the government has no plans to introduce an inheritance tax.