Pakatan Rakyat leaders say the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will further burden the rakyat.
Most of them were also still adamant that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) should not be implemented following Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s announcement that the Sales and Services Tax was to be abolished and replaced with the GST.
The GST is fixed at six percent and would commence on April 1, 2015.
According to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, there was no improvement in this yearâ€™s budget, and that the budget only showed how desperate the government was by resorting to new tax measures.
â€śThe budget failed to address issues of governance,â€ť he said, alluding to the various wastage revealed in the Auditor-Generalâ€™s (AG) report. He reiterated that the GST would only burden the rakyat.
Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar echoed Anwarâ€™s view, and said he knew that the GST would be mentioned in the budget.
â€śThe Prime Minister [Najib Tun Razak] said the GST is to increase the countryâ€™s revenue. However, the question is on the issue of management where there have been wastages,” he said.
Meanwhile, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming said the GST would burden all and many companies would take the opportunity to increase price of goods and services.
â€śAs the tax will be implemented in 2015, prices will increase in anticipation of it. Companies will say they must prepare in terms of operational expenditure and further burdening the rakyat,â€ť he said.
â€śNot only has subsidy on sugar decreased, there is the possibility that other prices of goods will also increase,â€ť he said, adding that if it did not happen this year, it would happen next year.
According to Ong, the government should instead focus on reducing operational expenditure.
â€śThere was no announcement to reduce spending. Further, there are serious expenses which are hidden from the eyes of the people,â€ť he said, citing the Prasarana LRT project and 1Malaysia Development Project (1MDB).
Having less to spend
To Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong the government is collecting the revenue from the poor through GST.
â€śEighty percent of the people do not pay tax. With the GST, the poorâ€™s disposable income will be reduced.
â€śThey will have less to spend and this will reduce demand, leading to less buying since the people will be careful in their spending,” he said, adding that the six percent GST rate was too high.
â€śThe bottom 60 percent of the population will be impacted. They will not be compensated with the BR1M increase,” he said.
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang lamented that the budget did not take into account the people’s welfare.
â€śThe government did not balance the tax increase with income so as not to aggravate inflation,” the Marang MP said.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on the other hand opined that it seemed as if the budget was to compensate for the wastages where the government was generous in its handouts in their bid to win votes in the recent general election.
â€śThose who have never paid tax will have to start paying tax soon,â€ť he said, adding that this would be unfair to the lower income group.
However, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said the government should have focused more on fundamental reforms and the party would do its best to highlight the budget’s weaknesses.
Commenting on the book vouchers given to university students, she said: â€śI donâ€™t see how book vouchers will uplift Malaysian universities. Education transformation is very much needed,â€ť she said.
Nurul was also not hopeful when Najib mentioned the move to provide more affordable housing.
Training her guns on Najib, she said: â€śI donâ€™t want Malaysia to be a shopping and fashion haven instead, I want Malaysians to be a nation of quality workers.â€ť
Meanwhile, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh noted that the allocation for the female population was puny.
â€śOnly RM100 million allocated and this is not sufficient. Also, there is no women’s programme. It is the same as last yearâ€™s where the programme was for women directors.
â€śThis is in contrast to what we suggested in the alternative (Pakatan Rakyat) budget,â€ť she said.
Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen said the GST will hurt the people socially.
â€śYes, six percent is high but there is no way to it as the government will not gain if it is anything less. This showed that they lied when they announced on their website that it would be four percent,â€ť he said.
Oil price has also been anticipated to rise, according to Tumpat MP Kamaruddin Jaafar.
â€śIt will impact the people and the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) handout would be of no help. As for the GST, it is premature,â€ť he said.
â€śHowever, the priority now is to make sure the government spends its funds prudently. The RM30 billion lost through corruption must be looked into first,â€ť he said.