PAC report on GST refunds ‘in line’ with my statement, says Guan Eng

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says the terminology he used was not raised in the PAC report but the opposition is bringing it up.

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today described the report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on GST refunds as being in line with his statements in August 2018.

Lim said the language used in the PAC report, in reference to GST refunds, carried the same meaning, although it did not use the word “robbed”.

“It’s how we want to interpret it. If we give allocations to the housing and local government ministry, the ministry must use it for the stated purpose.

“If the funds are used for a different purpose, the PAC will surely use words that are consistent with the culture and customs of parliament.

“But the meaning is clear. If we also look at what Attorney-General Tommy Thomas had said, it is the same,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

PAC yesterday said the GST refunds were not missing but pointed out a violation of the Goods and Services Tax Act 2014 where the money was transferred into the Consolidated Revenue Account instead of the GST Refund Account.

PAC chairman Noraini Ahmad said that funds were used for operational and development expenditure.

Lim had said in August last year the GST Refund Account was short of almost RM18 billion and only had about RM1.5 billion.

He said 121,429 companies and individuals had not received refunds amounting to RM19.4 billion since 2015 and many were questioning the delay.

Lim said he respected the PAC’s findings and recommendations on the matter and noted that it did not address the terminology he used.

“This matter was not raised in the PAC report but the opposition is bringing it up. If they want to harp on it, I will fight them,” he said.

The opposition has called for Lim to be referred to the rights and privileges committee for allegedly misleading the Dewan Rakyat by using the word “stolen” in reference to the GST refunds.

Lim accused the opposition of trying to draw attention away from its own issues, such as the appointment of former prime minister Najib Razak as the BN advisory board chairman.

“But that is their job and we have our job. What is important is the money is refunded to taxpayers,” he said.