• Bait Al-Amanah

The wealthy lobbied for GST’s abolition, says Isham

* This article is originally published on Free Malaysia Today (English version) & (Malay Version) covering the key takeaways discussed during the 'Webinar 'Patutkah GST Dikembalikan?' co-organised by Bait Al Amanah and Z Consulting Group on 27th June 2022.


 


Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil says it will take ‘political courage’ to reintroduce the goods and services tax. (Bernama pic)


GEORGE TOWN: Umno Supreme Council member Isham Jalil has claimed that it was the wealthy who pushed for the abolition of the goods and services tax (GST) through intense political lobbying after the last general election (GE14).


“There were lobbying efforts made by wealthy tycoons to certain political parties since they did not want to pay more taxes,” he said at a webinar co-organised by the Bait Al-Amanah think tank and Z Consultation Group.


Isham brushed off critics of the GST implementation in 2015 who claimed the tax was regressive.


He said GST was, in fact, progressive as it prevented the wealthy from avoiding taxes.


“When you have a sales and services tax (SST), the wealthy can avoid paying taxes,” he said.


Isham said having GST in place would help instil confidence among foreign investors, who would feel assured that Malaysia would not resort to implementing other forms of taxes.


He said that when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government abolished GST in 2019, foreign investors were worried about how the government would settle the RM1 trillion debt that had accumulated at the time.


“They were worried that the government might introduce other forms of taxes if the PH government did not have any plan to introduce a consumption tax,” he said.


The investors’ fear affected Malaysia, he said, making Indonesia and Vietnam more attractive to invest in.


Isham also said it would take political courage to reintroduce GST


“Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad considered reintroducing GST (in 2019), but I doubt he was serious about it due to political lobbying (from the wealthy) at the time,” he said.


‘Have an agreement to avoid politicising GST’


Bait Al-Amanah’s research director Benedict Weerasena called for a confidence and supply agreement (CSA) between the next government and the opposition to avoid politicising GST, should it be reintroduced after GE15.


“GST is good for national interests. So, if the opposition then plays with the public’s sentiments to oppose GST again, we will go back to square one.


“Strategy-wise, a CSA can be used as a mechanism for GST to be incorporated. We can fine-tune it during debates in Parliament,” he said.


 

GEORGE TOWN: Ahli Majlis Kerja Tertinggi (MKT) Umno Isham Jalil mendakwa golongan kaya mendesak pemansuhan cukai barangan dan perkhidmatan (GST) melalui lobi politik secara paksaan selepas pilihan raya umum ke-14 (PRU14) lalu.


“Terdapat usaha melobi dilakukan oleh hartawan kaya kepada parti politik tertentu kerana mereka tidak mahu membayar lebih banyak cukai,” katanya pada seminar anjuran bersama kumpulan pemikir Bait Al-Amanah dan Kumpulan Konsultasi Z secara maya.


Isham juga menepis dakwaan pengkritik bahawa pelaksanaan GST pada 2014 merupakan cukai regresif.


Beliau berkata GST, sebenarnya adalah ukai progresif kerana ia menghalang golongan kaya mengelak daripada membayar cukai.


“Apabila anda melaksanakan cukai jualan dan perkhidmatan (SST), golongan kaya mampu elak daripada membayar cukai,” katanya.


Isham berkata, dengan adanya GST, ia akan membantu menambah keyakinan pelabur asing dan mereka juga yakin Malaysia tidak akan melaksanakan cukai lain.


Katanya, apabila kerajaan Pakatan Harapan (PH) memansuhkan GST pada 2019, pelabur asing bimbang bagaimana kerajaan akan menyelesaikan hutang RM1 trilion yang terkumpul ketika itu.


“Mereka bimbang kerajaan mungkin memperkenalkan bentuk cukai lain jika kerajaan PH tidak mempunyai sebarang rancangan untuk memperkenalkan cukai kepenggunaan,” katanya.


Katanya, kebimbangan pelabur menjejaskan Malaysia hingga menjadikan Indonesia dan Vietnam lebih menarik kepada banyak pihak untuk melabur.


Isham juga berkata, keberanian politik diperlukan untuk memperkenalkan semula GST.


“Dr Mahathir Mohamad mempertimbangkan untuk memperkenalkan semula GST (pada 2019), tetapi saya ragu adakah beliau serius melaksanakannya kerana lobi politik (daripada kalangan orang kaya) pada masa itu,” katanya.


Perlu ada perjanjian untuk elak GST dipolitikkan


Pengarah penyelidikan Bait Al-Amanah Benedict Weerasena menggesa perjanjian kepercayaan dan perbekalan (CSA) antara kerajaan akan datang dan pembangkang untuk mengelak perbuatan mempolitikkan GST sekiranya ia diperkenalkan semula selepas PRU15.


“GST adalah baik untuk kepentingan negara. Jadi jika pembangkang kemudiannya bermain dengan sentimen orang ramai untuk menentang GST sekali lagi, kita akan kembali kepada keadaan yang sama.


“Dari segi strategi, CSA boleh digunakan sebagai mekanisme untuk GST diinstitusikan. Kita boleh memperhalusinya semasa perbahasan di Parlimen,” katanya.

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