PUTRAJAYA – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Goods and Services Tax can save the country during an economic downturn.
Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said the GST was introduced not to burden the people but to be a national economic saviour.
Speaking at the 36th World Customs Day 2018 celebration here today, he said the GST provided a platform to strengthen the financial resources of the government.
He said the government could fulfill the aspirations of the people and carry out public programmes if it had stable and growing financial resources.
“Without the GST, we would not have been confident of making the special payments to civil servants. (Without the GST), who knows, we may have succumbed to the recession,” he said. The six per cent GST was introduced on April 1, 2015.
Najib said the government did not propose to raise the GST rate.
Najib also said Malaysia’s GST rate was the lowest in the world and the number of exempted or zero-rated goods and services was probably the highest in the world.
He said the government’s decision to implement the GST was apt because it was a source of finance that would enable the government to implement various programmes for the benefit of the people.
“When we have a source of finance like the GST, we can carry out a redistribution of income… to groups that need government assistance,” he said.
The prime minister said with strong sources of finance, including through the implementation of the GST, the government could also implement the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) programme and the people could continue enjoying health services for only RM1.
Najib said last year’s GST collection (2017) was RM44 billion compared to RM41 billion in 2016.
This year’s GST collection can actually reach RM45 billion compared to the initial target of RM43.8 billion as announced in Budget 2018, he said.
The prime minister said Malaysia’s move to introduce the GST was also followed by other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which might have used a slightly different model, but the same principles.
“When our move is being emulated by other countries, it is a kind of acknowledgement that can convince us that we are on the right track,” he said.
For the record, besides Malaysia, more than 160 countries, including United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, are implementing the GST. – BERNAMA