RM18 bil in GST refunds missing, says finance minister

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng alleges that some of the missing money was given to cronies. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed today there is a shortfall of RM18 billion in a trust fund where goods and services tax (GST) refunds were supposed to be deposited by the government.

He told the Dewan Rakyat that the previous government robbed the rakyat of their money, which was abused or given to their cronies.

“They did not keep their trust. It’s a huge abuse. Some of the money was used for their cronies,” he said, adding that the present government does not have the money to pay the rakyat the GST refunds although they had been claiming for the refunds since April1, 2015.

The refunds belong to the people and the present government will try to look for the money next year, Lim added.

“The delays in payment were the cause of the business cost going up. A lot of businesses have complained of the delays and some have closed down their business,” he said.

Lim said the Customs Department confirmed that as of May 31, 2018, GST refunds stood at RM19.4 billion although the trust account only contained RM1.4 billion.

The refunds were supposed to total RM9.2 billion for 2018 refunds, RM6.8 bilion for 2017 refunds, RM2.8 billion for 2016 refunds, and RM600 million for 2015 refunds.

He said the delays (for the refunds) were due to weak cash flow and widespread wastage.

“They (BN) had also falsified accounts and misused the tax refunds for other use to close other deficits. The BN government will not be able to run from this,” he said.

Lim said the money was also used to cover 1MDB (deficit).

“Without 1MDB, there would not have been GST. The rakyat know GST was introduced not for their well-being but for the well-being of BN cronies like Malaysian businessman Jho Low, who is now being hunted by the police,” he said.

However, he said it was the government’s moral obligation to repay the GST refunds to businesses as it had negatively impacted their financial standing and weakened their cash flow.

“They then increased the prices to make up for their losses.”

Lim said GST was also labelled a cradle-to-grave tax as it included taxes on items used by infants to senior citizens, while under SST, about 5,000 items would not be taxed.

Guan Eng accuses BN of ‘robbing’ GST refunds, says account empty