BN makes police report on ‘missing’ GST refund claims to know the truth

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 10, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional (BN) wants the police to investigate if the allegations of the RM18 billion input tax credit misappropriated from the goods and services tax (GST) trust fund made by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, against the coalition, are true.

Opposition lawmaker Khairy Jamaluddin said if indeed there was misappropriation of GST refunds by the previous administration, the person who had directed the move “must be brought to justice”.

“If this thing did not happen and there is a reasonable answer that is acceptable, then this truth should be told to the rakyat because we [at] BN cannot accept and to be told that we had stolen the RM18 billion from taxpayers,” he told reporters at the parliament lobby yesterday.

The member of parliament for Rembau lodged a police report on the matter at the Sentul police station yesterday.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed that refunds for the input tax credit under the GST system to businesses were delayed as the money had been “robbed” and spent first by the previous BN government.

And on Wednesday, Guan Eng revealed that the reason for the delay was that about RM18 billion or 93% of the RM19.4 billion input tax credit under the GST system since 2015 had gone missing.

“The word ‘robbery’ is a big accusation and when the accusation was made, we (BN) made a decision to lodge a police report at the Sentul police station today (yesterday) [so that the police can conduct] investigation into the allegations — whether they are true or not,” said Khairy.

“I will also lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) tomorrow (today) because this robbery [allegation] could imply that corruption elements were made by the previous government,” he added.

Khairy also maintained that an internal investigation by the finance ministry (MoF) into the case of the RM18 billion input tax credit allegedly misappropriated from the GST trust fund is insufficient to determine its cause.

“We agree that an internal investigation is to be made by the MoF, but it is insufficient as the allegation of robbery is considered a crime,” he said.

As such, Khairy said the police report was made to ensure further action is taken by the Royal Malaysia Police to investigate all related individuals, including the former finance minister, and the MoF’s top officials and its agencies.

He was referring to Guan Eng’s announcement yesterday that an open public inquiry, to be headed by an independent established personality, will be conducted after an internal inquiry headed by Treasury secretary-general Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar is completed.

Khairy also claimed that Guan Eng had failed to give a detailed breakdown of the RM18 billion GST input tax credit — which had not been refunded to businesses due to technical problems, such as not following the system’s guidelines, disputes with customs and further auditing — disputing Guan Eng’s claims in terms of their validity.

“When asked twice, he (Guan Eng) could not give an answer and details of the breakdown, but he made a serious allegation without the right details,” he said.