Guan Eng says PAC report on GST refunds proves wrongdoing

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

PETALING JAYA: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng appears to stand by his controversial remarks over the status of some RM19.4 billion in tax refunds.

He said yesterday’s findings released by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) proved that the previous government had used the money illegally.

“The unpaid refunds worth RM19.4 billion involved 121,429 companies that included among the biggest conglomerates in Malaysia, like Petronas, Shell and Tenaga Nasional,” he said in a statement, adding that the finance ministry would carry out PAC’s reminder not to repeat non-compliance in the usage of tax refunds.

Lim however made no reference to his infamous “robbed” remark, the term he used when describing the unreturned RM19.4 billion in refunds of the goods and services tax (GST).

The opposition has called for Lim to be referred to Parliament’s rights and privileges committee over the remark.

Following a year-long probe, PAC yesterday said the funds were not missing, but pointed out a violation of the Goods and Services Tax Act 2014 where the money was transferred into a Consolidated Revenue Account instead of the GST Refund Account.

Referring to the report, Lim said it was illegal not to place the GST revenue into a special refunds account.

He also questioned the previous government for using the funds for operating and development expenditures, despite Customs saying it did not have enough GST returns which were supposed to be returned within 14 days.

“Taxpayers in Malaysia were shocked to find out that the government had less than RM150 million in its GST Refunds Account to facilitate returns,” he added.