KUALA LUMPUR: Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani yesterday hit out at claims that the government had washed its hands of the increase in prices following the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST).
He said the government had never renounced its responsibilities on the issue, but constantly monitored traders who took advantage of the situation to reap huge profits.
It also provided subsidies to the public, he added.
“We have given targeted subsidies totalling RM26 billion, including the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) as well as assistance to fishermen, farmers and padi planters.
“In the process of upgrading to a more efficient system, there will be some people who are affected, especially those in the lower income group. So here, the government will help, that is our system,” he told Bernama here yesterday.
Johari acknowledged that there had been an increase in prices since the GST was put in place.
“The first time we introduced the GST system, prices went up because traders who had never paid taxes before now had to pay for the first time. The increase in the price of goods was to cover their increased costs.
“Eventually, after we give them time, they will compete among themselves. They cannot keep increasing the prices as consumers are savvy about buying things,” the Titiwangsa MP said.
He also criticised the opposition whom he said still could not understand the GST issue, adding that the tax was to replace the inefficient sales and services tax.
With the GST, he said, the government could track down tax evaders, which could not be done through the SST system.