BN senators warned not to sabotage SST Bills

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 31): Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has urged Barisan Nasional senators not to block the passing of two Bills to abolish the goods and services tax (GST) and reinstate the sales and services tax (SST).

"If they want to sabotage the passing of the SST Bill, then that is already an evil intent," Lim told reporters at the Parliamentary lobby today.

Lim said any such action will affect the progress of the country's economy, which has grown by an average of 4% to 6% in the last five years.

"Let us respect the choice of the people. They (BN lawmakers) should give us the authority and the policy room to implement programmes that will not only benefit the economic wellbeing of people but also ensure that our fiscal finances continue to be at a sustainable position," he added.

Although the ruling Pakatan Harapan government controls the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House of Parliament), BN senators make up the majority in the Dewan Negara (Upper House or Senate).

BN has been against the new Government’s decision to abolish the GST and reintroduce the SST.  

Earlier today, the Government tabled the Sales Tax Bill 2018 and Services Tax Bill 2018 for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat.

By sabotaging the approval of the SST Bills, Lim said Opposition lawmakers will disrespect the process of democracy and ignore the mandate given by the voters in the May 9 general election.

"If they make a fuss over these Bills, are they then ready to see our economy going down the drain, just to see them achieving their own personal political agenda?

"To me, this is a shallow thinking and will not benefit the rakyat. Worst, it will show disloyalty to the democratic principle," he added.

In its election manifesto, Pakatan Harapan had listed the abolishment of the GST as among its top priority agenda, which was blamed for rising prices of goods.  

If the SST fails to be rolled out on Sept 1 as scheduled, Lim warned that Malaysia could face a fiscal problem as it may not receive a surplus from the tax collection, which will be used for development and operating expenditures, as well as to service the RM1.087 trillion national debt.

In 2018, the government is expected to take in RM21 billion in SST collection, as opposed to annual GST collection of around RM44 billion.

"This is important as rolling out the SST will boost confidence to the rakyat and show investors that our economy is running smoothly," he added.

Alhough the Government is not happy with the financial scandals at 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which had amassed debt to the tune of RM50 billion, Lim said tax collection will help the country to pay off its debts as the nation cannot afford to slip into default.

"If the country is in default, Malaysia's reputation and credibility at the international arena will be destroyed," he added.

Earlier, Lim told the Dewan Rakyat lawmakers that the Government had forked out RM7 billion to date to pay a portion of 1MDB's enormous debt.