By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — The Najib Administration had missed “the woods for the trees” by emphasising on a consumption tax rather than increasing efficiency and competitiveness while reducing wastage and corruption, the DAP said today.
DAP publicity chief Tony Pua (picture) said the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s move to delay the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was also an early success for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition which opposed the tax as a burden for Malaysians.
“The public’s hopes on the transformation of Malaysia’s economy is now severely dented with a government that does not know what it is doing and which is missing the woods for the trees by placing priorities on items such as the GST,” Pua said in a statement today.
“It should be doing more to institutionalise best practices such as ‘open tenders’ to increase efficiency and competitiveness, while reducing wastage and corruption,” he added.
Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah yesterday disclosed the government was pulling the GST Bill from a second reading when Parliament convenes this week, saying it wanted public feedback on the proposed tax.
The initial tax of 4 per cent will replace the current Sales and Service Tax of between 5 and 10 per cent.
The GST, which would have generated revenues totalling around RM8.8 billion, was due to be introduced in 2011 as part of measures to reduce Malaysia’s dependence on oil revenues, which currently account for almost half of government income.
Malaysia’s budget deficit hit a more than 20 year high of 7.4 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009, according to government data.
Pua claimed the policy reversal showed the government has not been able to get its act together in managing the country’s economy, especially in dealing with “the ballooning deficit and government debt which has increased to 52 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”.
“The ‘postponement’ of the GST Bill marks an early success for the efforts by Pakatan Rakyat in our campaign to oppose the tax which penalises the middle and lower income Malaysians,” he said, adding the coalition will continue its campaign to ensure the people are informed about the GST.
Pua also accused the government of being indecisive over issues such as the restructuring of the tolled highway infrastructure which was originally due in August 2009 but has been postponed indefinitely as well as tariff increase for tolled highways and electricity
“Even the much anticipated cornerstone economic policy of Najib’s administration, the “New Economic Model” has been delayed twice since the start of 2010 to Jun 2010.
“The U-turns and indecisiveness of government policies are further compounded by its inability to practise what it preaches with regards to “open tenders” and maximising value for government owned assets,” he said, referring to the proposed Matrade’s largest exhibition and convention centre in Malaysia which was awarded without any tender to Naza TTDI for RM628 million.
DAP’s Kampung Tunku assemblyman Ng Weng San echoed Pua’s views and asked the government to give a rationale for the GST.
“Wee believe that the people deserve more information on the implementation of GST as its implementation is just a matter of time.
“We shall not forget that the idea of implementing GST was first tabled by the Federal Government under the then Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2006,” Lau said.