KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan government is committed to returning the Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds that were improperly or even ‘illegally’ withheld by the previous government, beginning next year, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said the commitment was being made despite the huge amount of refunds involved.
Apart from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and related financial scandals, Lim, in a shocking revelation recently disclosed that as at May 31, 2018, the previous government withheld GST refund payments amounting to RM19.4 billion.
He said some of these refunds, stretched as far back as 2015 and deserved answers from former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“The government faces a shortfall of RM19.25 billion because there is only RM148.6 million in the GST Refunds Trust account, when it should be RM19.4 billion,” he said in a statement.
Lim added that the shortfall was confirmed by Customs director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam.
The Customs Department had requested from the monthly Trust Fund committee meetings, that RM82.9 billion be transferred to the GST Refunds Trust Account but only RM63.5 billion was effected giving rise to the shortfall of RM19.25 billion.
This also resulted in 121,429 companies and individuals not getting their GST refunds since 2015.
Former Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Mohd Irwan chaired the monthly Trust Fund Committee meetings since 2015.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says the Pakatan Harapan government is committed to returning the Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds that were improperly or even ‘illegally’ withheld by the previous government. File pic by AIZUDDIN SAAD.
The Finance Minister said while decisions were made by Irwan, Najib still had a critical role to play as Finance Minister and raised three important questions for Najib.
“Did Najib authorise that GST refunds not be made in two weeks as required by the law? Did he approve the decision by Irwan not to transfer the full RM82.9 billion as requested by Customs, but only RM63.5 billion or a shortfall of RM19.25 billion to the GST Refunds Trust Account?
“And, did the former prime minister approve the GST refunds which recognised instead as government revenue to be used as the government pleases,” he asked?
Lim said Irwan was responsible for the 121,429 companies and individuals not receiving their GST refunds amounting to RM19.4 billion and his decision must have been approved by the Minister of Finance.
“It is therefore imperative that Najib account for his role to 121,429 companies and individuals not getting back their RM19.4 billion or the RM19.25 billion funds that were missing in the GST Refunds Trust account, by answering and not dodging these three questions,” he added. -- Bernama © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd