Dr M: Najib should have known where money for GST refunds was

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says his predecessor Najib Razak who was also the finance minister should have been aware of the movement of money into the consolidated fund meant for goods and services tax (GST) refunds.

“He should have known where the money was,” he said. “Money belonging to the government can’t be spent just like that. There is a need to fill in forms and get permission, and there has to be a written record of all movement of money.

“If he says he does not know, there must be something wrong. The government will trace the culprit and is ready to take any legal action,” he said at a press conference after opening the Cities 4.0: Building a Smart & Digitalised City international conference and exhibition here today.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a statement yesterday it was hard to believe that Najib was unaware that as of May 31, up to 121,429 companies and individuals had yet to get back their GST refunds, with some of the refunds dating back to 2015.

Lim added that only Najib had the authority to stop the transfer of the RM19.25 billion into the consolidated fund for GST refunds from the RM82.9 billion requested by the Customs Department. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

On the matter of BR1M, which he previously labelled as a form of corruption, Mahathir said the aid was given to garner the people’s support.

The prime minister also said he believed the aid had not been equally distributed.

“The government cares and wants to help the people, but the aid needs to be right. If a person earns less than RM4,000 and has lots of burdens, including a large family liability, we can give him money.

“But giving money to someone just for earning less than RM4,000, regardless of the situation, is wrong. It is a bribe. Government policy is to help the needy, not everyone,” he said.