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[ 25-11-2013 ]
To pay tax is to be patriotic, says PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Malaysians can prove their patriotism by paying tax, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today when outlining the government’s reasons to introduce the controversial Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The prime minister noted that only 10 per cent of the 14 million workers in the country paid taxes.

“Paying your taxes is an act of patriotism” he was quoted as saying by The Star Online at a seminar on Strengthening the National Economy at the Federal Territories Mosque here.

“The definition of patriotism in our country is that we must discharge our responsibility to the country for the good of the people and the nation.

“When we pay tax, we are helping the people. We instil this spirit, with this our country will be more successful,” state news agency Bernama reported the PM as saying.

Najib was also quoted as saying the revenue was needed to continue developing the country, as Malaysians were now more demanding and had higher expectations of the government.

Such demands could only be fulfilled if there was more revenue, he added.

Malaysia’s proposed GST rate of 6 per cent, which will be enforced from April 2015, is the lowest in the region, whereas most countries implement a 10 per cent value added tax (VAT).

The consumption tax was first announced during Budget 2005 and was originally scheduled to be implemented in 2007, and tabled for the first reading in 2009 for implementation in late 2011, but was withdrawn during the second reading in 2010 following fierce public resistance.

The repeated deferments ended this year when it was finally passed in Parliament during a tabling of Budget 2014.

Unlike income tax, which is only applicable after a certain salary level is exceeded, the GST means all Malaysians will be taxed according to their level of spending, regardless of income.

Its introduction has met with vehement resistance from certain consumer groups and opposition parties, most recently PAS.

At its annual congress which kicked off last week, the opposition party’s ulama wing called the GST “unIslamic”.

According to a representative from the wing comprising Islamic clerics, the GST is a ‘cruel’ measure that would burden Malaysians, especially the young, who are already saddled with household debts and various daily payments like toll charges.

“Suddenly in this situation where they already cannot breathe, Umno and Barisan Nasional government has introduced the GST... This is something which goes against Islam,” said wing representative Azhar Yaacob on November 21.

“Rulers cannot, and it is even haram (forbidden), to take money from the public as long as the country’s finance is enough for the survival of the people and the rulers.”

The cleric also stressed that the PAS ulama differs from their allies in the Pakatan Rakyat pact, who support GST conditionally, claiming that the ulama will never agree with the tax since it is seen as against the religion.

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