High Court strikes out suit by dates distributor for GST exemption

KHAIRAH N. KARIM

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today struck out legal action by a dried dates distributor to remove the Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied on the fruit, and other essential goods and services.

Counsel Maisarah Juhari revealed that Judge Roslan Abu Bakar allowed the defendants’ application to dismiss the suit.

Maisarah was acting for the Royal Customs of Malaysia and the Finance Ministry, which were sued by Asia Kitchen Industries Sdn Bhd on June 17, last year.

She said the striking out application was made on grounds that the suit was

nonjusticiable, as it involves government policy.

"We argued that the court could not hear the matter, as the issue of GST is government policy," Maisarah said, adding that the court ordered RM10,000 to be paid to the defendants as costs.

Meanwhile, counsel Rahmah Rahmat, who represented the plaintiff, said she is waiting for directions from her client on whether to appeal the decision.

According to the statement of claim, Asia Kitchen Industries assert that the general prices of goods and services have risen since the implementation of the GST on April 1, 2015, despite the two defendants' promises to the contrary.

The company referred to the Department of Statistics’ Jan 2016 Consumer Price Index (CPI), which showed an increase of 3.5 per cent, compared to the same month last year.

Asia Kitchen Industries – which imports dried dates from Saudi Arabia and processes and distributes the fruit here – claimed it was adversely affected by the 6 per cent GST imposed on dried dates.

The company also alleged that the imposition of GST on dried dates had prejudiced consumers and negatively-impacted the dried dates market here, as the fruit is religiously-significant for Muslims, especially in the month of Ramadan.

Asia Kitchen Industries had sought court orders to exempt essential products and services from GST, to amend the GST List of Fruits and Vegetables, and to put dried dates in the same category as wet dates, which are exempt from GST.