Implementation of GST major contributor to rising prices, say economists

Seen are panelists Dr Muhammed (left) and Azrul Azwar (right).

KUCHING, March 7: The implementation of GST is a major contributor to rising prices of goods and services.

The fall in the value of the ringgit as well as the withdrawal of government subsidies which happened at around the same time further contributed to the burden of rising prices, said economist Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid.

Speaking at the public forum ‘GST & PERIUK NASI KITAK’ (GST & your rice bowl) held in Kuching recently, Dr Muhammed said there was no chance for the people to make adjustments for this.

He also took the audience through the history of GST before implementation and was of the view that GST contributes to the regressive tax system in Malaysia.

“It is the poor who gets taxed the most and not the rich. This is because the poor spends a much greater percentage of their pay or income on goods and services, than the rich.”

Dr Muhammed and another panelist Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajuddin both suggested that Malaysia needs a more progressive tax system.

The public forum organised by Rise of Sarawak Efforts (ROSE) in partnership with another NGO known as Lawyer Kamek For Change received an encouraging response from the student community, members of the public and friends from NGO circles. Its aim was to raise awareness on the subject of GST and rising costs of living and other issues affecting young people.

Despite the rosy economic picture painted by the country’s leaders, the panelists pointed that it didn’t reflect the reality on the ground.

“Of what use is high GDP or a booming economy if it does not benefit the rakyat?” asked Azrul Azwar.

He said that the people are experiencing stagnant wages; the increase in wages cannot catch up with rising costs of living and inflation, and many people couldn’t find jobs. He urged the public to demand policy makers to look into the issue.

ROSE chairman Ann Teo, in a press release today, echoed Azrul Azwar’s suggestion that people participate in civil society.

“Come and volunteer and participate in our core activities centred around voter empowerment and increasing democratic spaces through citizen participation,” she said.

She also made the call for all, in particular the young adults, to register as voters and to go out to vote when the general election (GE14) comes, describing it as the minimum that every citizen has to do — exercise their right to vote and elect the representative of their choice. — DayakDaily