Source: Ministry of Finance
KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 15): Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed today that the RM19.25 billion allegedly missing in the goods and services tax (GST) refunds trust account had affected 121,429 companies and individuals, who were not paid back in two weeks as required by law, stretching as far back as 2015.
In a statement today, Lim said the government faces a shortfall of RM19.25 billion because there was only RM148.6 million in the GST refunds trust account as at May 31, 2018.
"This was confirmed by Customs director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam that customs had requested from the monthly trust fund committee meetings that RM82.9 billion be transferred to the GST refunds trust account, but only RM63.5 billion was effected.
"This shortfall of RM19.25 billion resulted in 121,429 companies and individuals not getting their GST refunds since 2015. The trust fund committee monthly meetings were chaired by former treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar since 2015," he said.
Lim noted that while the decisions were made by Mohd Irwan, former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak played a critical role as the then finance minister.
"This raises three important questions for Najib. One, did Najib authorise that GST refunds be not made in two weeks as required by the law?
"Two, did Najib approve the decision by Mohd Irwan not to transfer the full RM82.9 billion as requested by Customs, but only RM63.5 billion with these refunds stretching back to 2015, or a shortfall of RM19.25 billion to the GST Refunds trust account?" Lim asked.
Thirdly, Lim questioned whether Najib had approved that the GST refunds not paid back since 2015 was instead recognised as government revenue to be used as the government pleases.
"It is therefore imperative that Najib accounts for his role to 121,429 companies and individuals not getting back their RM19.4 billion or the RM19.25 billion funds that were missing in the GST refunds trust account, by answering and not dodging these three questions," he added.
Despite the huge amount of refunds involved, Lim reiterated that the new government is committed to returning the refunds that were improperly or even 'illegally' withheld by the previous government, beginning next year.