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Govt has no political will to reintroduce GST, says Mydin boss

Ameer Ali Mydin said a proposed luxury tax would not bring the country much revenue but may drive tourists and consumers elsewhere.

PETALING JAYA: Businessman Ameer Ali Mydin has said the government lacks the political will needed to reintroduce the goods and services tax (GST).

Speaking on the latest episode of FMT’s “Stakeholders, with Shireen” which premiered today, the Mydin hypermarket managing director said a reintroduction of the GST was the “easiest” way to boost state coffers.

“But just because someone lost in an election because of GST, the government doesn’t have the political will to do it now,” he told host Shireen Muhiudeen.

He said, as a result, the government has been forced to look elsewhere for revenue: “Instead of collecting money on the left, they try to collect money on the right.”

Introduced in 2015, the GST became a hot button issue at the 14th general election three years later, and formed a central part of the narrative which saw Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan overthrow Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional to wrest control of Putrajaya.

Luxury tax revenue insignificant, counterproductive

Asked about proposals in Budget 2024 to introduce a luxury tax, Ameer labelled the move a “stupid suggestion” which showed a “lack of understanding” on the government’s part.

“Luxury tax is not going to bring us the billions of dollars (needed),” he said, adding that at best it would rake in revenue of approximately RM200 million.

Instead, Ameer said such a tax only serves to create the perception that big ticket items are more costly in Malaysia.

As a result consumers and tourists will look to purchase them elsewhere, he said.

SST exemptions narrow tax base

As regards SST, Ameer said the real issue lies in the extensive list of exemptions given, especially in the food and beverage (F&B) and telecommunications sectors, which impact on collectible tax revenue.

“Why do you exempt F&B when that is where the money is? You want money? You should know where to look for it,” he said, adding that the government should be looking to widen its tax base rather than limit it through the grant of exemptions.

Exemptions create loopholes which businesses will always exploit, he said.