Lim to provide police statement on GST refund shortfall next week

AUDREY VIJAINDREN

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng will provide his statement to the police regarding the alleged RM19.25 billion shortfall in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Refunds Trust account, next week.

Lim, in a statement, said the refusal of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to answer questions regarding his role in the issue when the latter was finance minister, prompted him to lodge a police report.

He said his cooperation with the police demonstrated the new government’s sincerity in its wish to uncover the truth.

“Datuk Seri Najib Razak has so far refused to clear the air about his involvement as former finance minister in this matter and said I should lodge a police report. My full cooperation with the police proves that the new government wants the truth to prevail.

“A huge number of companies and individuals affected by this scandal are now wondering why RM19.4 billion in the GST Refunds Trust Account was not returned to them within two weeks as required by law, from as far back as 2015 (RM610 million, 3 per cent), 2016 (RM2,821 million, 15 per cent), 2017 (RM6,782 million, 35 per cent) and 2018 (up to 31 May) (RM9,184 million, 47 per cent),” said Lim.

Lim said Najib has no excuse not to answer three pertinent questions over the missing funds, which he said affected 121,429 companies and individuals.

“The police will record my statement next week, but I want Najib to explain who authorised the GST refunds not be made within two weeks as required by the law, and did he approve that the GST refunds - not paid back since 2015 - were to be recognised as government revenue instead and used as the government pleased?

“Besides that, I would like to know if Najib approved the decision by former treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar not to transfer the full amount of RM82.9 billion refunds as requested by Customs, but only RM63.5 billion since 2015; a shortfall of RM19.25 billion to the GST Refunds Trust Accounts.”

Lim said this was confirmed by Customs director-general Datuk Seri T Subromaniam, who stated that Customs, during the monthly Trust Fund committee meetings chaired by the former treasury secretary-general since 2015, had requested that RM82.9 billion be transferred to the GST Refunds Trust Account, but only RM63.5 billion was transferred.

This shortfall of RM19.25 billion, he claimed, resulted in 121,429 companies and individuals not receiving their GST refunds since 2015.

“While the decisions were made by Irwan, Najib still had a critical role to play as only the finance minister has the authority to approve the RM19.25 billion not to be transferred to the GST Refunds Trust Account, or not to return the GST refunds, within two weeks as required by law,” Lim said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd