SMEs call for policy clarity as PH heads towards 100th day in office

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 15): The Small & Medium Enterprises Association Malaysia (Samenta) has expressed its disappointment at the apparent lack of business-friendly moves by the Pakatan Harapan government, which will be reaching its first 100 days in office on Friday (Aug 17).

Specifically, the association is disappointed from a business perspective as it has seen indications that the corporate tax will not be lowered, according to its chairman (policy and government relations) Datuk William Ng.

The association also called for the finance ministry to issue a full list of taxable industries and items under the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

“We also urge the government to acknowledge that prices may not necessarily come down across the board, with the repeal of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the introduction of the SST,” Ng said in a statement.

Ng said the SST would have a compounding effect, causing an increase in incremental costs that not all small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may be able to absorb fully, given the tough market condition. 

“There are many factors that determine prices — not just the sales tax. For example, the government is adamant with implementing another increase in the minimum wage, which would certainly raise costs and hence, final price to consumers,” he said.

The group also requested for the government to resolve the outstanding issue of GST refunds to SMEs, ahead of the SST implementation, saying “many SMEs are not able to recoup investments spent, implementing GST.”

“We are eager to support the new Pakatan government, but the government must recognise that above all else, we need policy clarity — and the sooner the better,” the statement added.

Nevertheless, the association is "happy" to see clear evidence of changes being made and some election promises being delivered by the new government. 

“This 100-day is a self-imposed timeline, which we think is unnecessary, given the deep-rooted institutional challenges we have," Ng said, referring to Pakatan's promise to deliver the 10 promises they have outlined in their election manifesto within the first 100 days of forming the government.

"In our recent dialogue with the Minister of International Trade and Industry, the assurance given was that the new government will remain business friendly and trade facilitative. We are looking forward to that being translated into policy and an implementation agenda, so that businesses can feel that on-ground,” Ng added.