As a retiree, I should be protesting against the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Instead, I have been very supportive of it since its implementation in April 2015.
Implementing GST was not only a wise move but it was also a step in the right direction for Malaysia to become a progressive nation. We can’t depend on crude oil as our main source of revenue forever.
If, as certain politicians in the opposition parties are proposing, that GST be abolished, it would only be replaced with the inefficient Sales and Services Tax, which has long been abandoned by most countries especially in the West.
Currently, there are more than 160 countries worldwide, with the latest being India, that have adopted GST as a reliable and transparent tax regime.
A responsible government has to manage its financial resources efficiently and prudently. With more revenue collected through GST, the Government should be in a better position to reduce its existing debts.
As Malaysia has been running a deficit economy for a long time, there is an urgent need to rectify this weakness. If not, it will be vulnerable to a national debt crisis similar to the one encountered by Greece. If that happens, the entire nation would have to endure harsh austerity measures to fix the problem and it would take years for the economy to recover.
Our government shouldn’t overlook the current bloated public service workforce of 1.6 million, which is causing a big dent in the country’s coffers. The estimated emolument costs to be incurred on the existing workforce come to a staggering RM77.4bil in 2017 alone, while revenue collection for the year is projected at RM219.7bil. The current ratio between emolument costs and revenue is 35.2% (compared to 23.3% 10 years ago). The pace at which emolument costs is growing is worrisome.
I believe many pragmatic taxpayers like me supported the implementation of GST. In return, we expect the Government to be responsible and accountable in handling taxpayers’ money. Malaysia dropped one point in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in 2016, scoring only 49 out of 100. There must be real commitment towards improving the CPI, otherwise corruption would not only persist but also worsen in the near future.
Obviously, many senior citizens like me haven’t forgotten the impact of the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis. Although we overcame the crisis without help from the International Monetary Fund, our economy suffered a big blow and many lives were thrown into turmoil. The share market collapsed along with many companies, big and small, causing thousands to lose their jobs.
I hope our former premier, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, hasn’t forgotten the destruction the Asian financial crisis caused to the nation. Petronas cannot be treated as a cash cow by the Government anymore. Crude oil is a depleting natural resource and the good old days of high crude oil prices are long gone.
Source: The star online
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