SUNGAI BESI: PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli has challenged BN strategic communications (BNSC) deputy director Eric See-To to a debate on the country’s economic development and tax collected by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).
The challenge came following a statement See-To made last week that there was nothing unusual about income tax collections outpacing the country’s economic growth.
See-To had made the statement after Rafizi said income tax collection had grown disproportionately compared with the country’s economic growth since Prime Minister Najib Razak took office in 2009.
“I invite him (See-To) to debate with me so we can see for ourselves how BN’s experts talk rubbish when faced with real economic figures,” he said at a press conference at Invoke Malaysia’s headquarters here today.
On Aug 31, See-To took issue with the Pandan MP’s decision to compare the tax collections in Malaysia in 2010 to Australia’s tax collection average growth of 5.3% during the same period.
Rafizi, he said, failed to state that the GDP growth of Australia was just 2.7% during that period, which meant that tax collections had also outpaced economic growth there.
“Australia’s example shows that income tax collections outpacing economic growth is not unusual.”
Previously, Rafizi said that from RM60.3 billion in 2010, income tax collection was estimated to have reached RM112.3 billion in 2017, according to data obtained from the Treasury.
Today, Rafizi also accused See-To of being the “mahaguru”, deified by Umno cybertroopers, in order to rebut criticisms hurled against Najib’s economic management.
He said he was also happy that See-To had answered his statement regarding tax.
“Looking at the writing styles of these Umno bloggers, I believe he is the same person,” he said.
Rafizi also claimed that even though Malaysia’s economy was growing at a fast pace, it did not necessarily generate income for the country.
He said the reason for this was because projects which involved huge expenses did not generate profits, leading to the government being unable to collect taxes from these projects.
He also claimed that there was a drastic decline in personal income tax collections by the government even though the economy was developing.
“Personal income tax collection in 2012 was RM51,288 million but it went down in 2016 to RM27,566 million.
“This is because workers’ salaries are largely below the minimum to pay taxes.
“Between 2013 and 2015, more than 500,000 Malaysian workers no longer need to pay personal income tax because their salaries are too low when compared to the minimum required, which is around RM4,000.” he said.
Rafizi said because of this, other tax collections like the goods and services tax (GST) and corporate tax need to be collected by the government.
“The introduction of GST in 2015 has resulted in indirect tax collected from the rakyat to increase by 100% and has remained 3.7% of the country’s total economy.
“Meanwhile, beginning 2014, corporate tax increased twice as much to RM65 billion compared with 2012 when it was RM23 billion, while economic growth back then was only around 5%,” he said.
He also urged the IRB to provide answers to all of the issues he raised today.