KUALA LUMPUR July 6, 2011: The Government will not introduce goods and services tax (GST) any time soon without first getting the support of the public.
“There should not be any cause for alarm even if there is a decision to introduce the GST tomorrow.
“It will take at least 18 months for it to be fully in place,” said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala.
Speaking to reporters yesterday after the announcement of the Government's six Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs) to boost the nation's global competitiveness, he said public engagement and education were necessary before any decision was made.
“We want to make sure the public fully understands and is supportive of the GST before it is implemented,” he said.
Other factors such as the introduction of anti-profiteering laws and recalibrating of sales accounting systems by thousands of retailers were also needed, he said.
Idris, who is Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) chief executive officer, hit out at certain quarters for portraying the GST as being a burden for the lower-income group and the poor.
“Many people have spun stories saying that it will hurt the poor and the lower-income group.
“This is absolutely not true as all staple food such as sugar, rice and flour would be exempted from the GST,” he said.
He said the exemption could also be expanded to cover public transport.
He also took to task those who claimed that Pemandu had misled the public over the Government's subsidy cuts.
He said that only “bad subsidy” was reduced while “good subsidies” such as those related to education and health were maintained.