Dr M says would reconsider GST if there is public support

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the launch of the Security and Public Order Policy at the Home Ministry in Putrajaya October 3, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the launch of the Security and Public Order Policy at the Home Ministry in Putrajaya October 3, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 3 — The government would re-examine the merits of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) it repealed last year if there is public demand, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Speaking at a press conference, the prime minister was commenting on the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research’s (MIER) suggestion yesterday for the consumption tax to be brought back albeit at three per cent or half the rate previously levied.

“Well if that is what the public wants, we will study to see if it is better than the Sales and Services Tax (SST),” Dr Mahathir before adding that this will not be part of Budget 2020.

Instead, he said the government would review this at a later date, if necessary.

Yesterday, MIER chairman Tan Sri Kamal Salih said the GST had supported government revenue when the crude oil price had fallen below US$36 per barrel in 2015.

He also described the unpopular tax regime as “fair to all walks of life”.

During the 14th general election, Pakatan Harapan had campaigned on the removal of the GST that rival Barisan Nasional had introduced and promptly abolished the tax after it took over the government.

After MIER’s suggestion yesterday, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) deputy chairman Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said it would be difficult to reintroduce the GST given continuing negative perceptions of it.

He pointed out that the previous rate of six per cent was high and had burdened the people with price hikes especially on essential items.

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