Deputy minister echoes Dr M’s sentiments on possible return of GST

Deputy International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Ong Kian Ming speaks to the press during a visit to M&S Food Industries Sdn Bhd in the Silibin Industrial Area in Ipoh October 3, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Deputy International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Ong Kian Ming speaks to the press during a visit to M&S Food Industries Sdn Bhd in the Silibin Industrial Area in Ipoh October 3, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, Oct 3 — Conducting a study on whether to reintroduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) does not mean that the government will bring back the system; instead, it will depend on what the people want, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming.

He said everyone needed to understand the context of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement after he was asked whether the government would reintroduce the GST system, which was replaced by the current Sales and Service Tax (SST) on September 1 last year.

“In response to an economist’s suggestion that we should perhaps study it, Tun Dr Mahathir said we could study it if the people want the GST to be reinstated.

“However, if the people do not want a return to the old system, the people’s voice will be heard and it will not be brought back,” he told reporters after a “turun padang” (going-down-to-the-ground) programme in which he visited M&S Food Industries Sdn Bhd in Silibin followed by SYW Industries Sdn Bhd in Menglembu here today.

Ong explained that the prime minister was not calling for the GST to be reintroduced but was only giving his view when asked about the proposal.

“His view is that we should assess whether the people want the policy back,” he said.

Earlier this week, Malaysian Institute of Economic Research chairman Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih was reported as saying the government should reintroduce the GST in Budget 2020 but at a lower rate of three per cent. The proposal was one of the items on MIER’s budget wish list.

Meanwhile, today’s programme was an effort by Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd’s (MIDF) Development Finance Division (DFD) to promote its financing schemes and create awareness to encourage local entrepreneurs to work together with government agencies.

Among others, it showcased MIDF’s achievements in improving the small and medium enterprises’ contribution to the economy for certain sectors or industries targeted by the government through its various loan schemes.

Also present during the programme was DFD head Azizi Mustafa.

Ong expressed hope that SME manufacturers, in migrating towards Industry 4.0, would seek financing support from MIDF to help them increase their productivity and performance.

Since 2008, MIDF has approved 2,090 loans totalling RM2.65 billion to SMEs in the manufacturing and service sectors for the northern region — covering Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis — to help develop local businesses.

MIDF has, since its establishment in 1960, assisted 11,102 local companies with approved financing totalling RM15.15 billion.

Meanwhile, in Kedah, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said the government would take into account the views of everyone, especially the public, before making any move to reintroduce the GST.

“The people’s interest is given much importance; that’s why we will listen to their views in addition to those of the economic experts. If the people do not want the GST, there’s no need for it. But if they want us to bring back GST, we will have to study it first.

“I would like to understand what is the problem with the SST system, which seems okay to me. While the SST has some weakness, it is going well. It is better than the previous tax regime (GST) with a rate of six per cent, which was viewed as high,” he told reporters in Alor Setar when asked on Dr Mahathir’s statement regarding the need to study the reintroduction of the GST.

Earlier, Mukhriz, who is also Kedah Menteri Besar, officiated at the launch of Amanah Raya Bhd’s (AmanahRaya) Alor Setar branch office. Also present was AmanahRaya chairman Datuk Mohd Nasir Ali and group managing director Adenan Md Yusof. — Bernama

*Editor's note: An earlier version of this article contained an error which has since been amended.

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