Tackle rising cost of living, not bring back GST, says Guan Eng

PETALING JAYA, 2 Jun – The government should address the rising cost of living instead of reintroducing the goods and services tax (GST), former finance minister Lim Guan Eng said.

He said the GST, which was first introduced during Najib Razak’s administration in 2015 before being abolished after Pakatan Harapan came to power, would burden the people.

Lim, who is also the DAP chairman, said it was not the time to reintroduce the GST.

“The rising cost of living should be given serious attention,” he told FMT.

“Why is the government not looking out for the people, but mulling a new tax instead?”

Lim, who had in the past admitted that the GST was a more transparent system compared to the sales and services tax (SST), suggested that Putrajaya should set up a fund to stabilise prices.

“The increase in the cost of goods cannot be prevented, but the government can control it, along with the food inflation,” he said.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a recent interview with Japan’s Nikkei Asia the government was keen on reintroducing GST to expand its revenue base.

While the government was aware of the negative public sentiment towards GST, there were not many alternatives to replenish Putrajaya’s funds, Ismail said.

Pakatan Harapan yesterday objected to the proposal, saying it was harmful to the people given the current situation of high inflation, rising cost of living and the lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on household income.

The opposition coalition said the reintroduction of GST would result in a sharp rise in the prices of goods.