Friday, March 12, 2010

TO RESOLVE GST ISSUE : 'Street demo the final answer'

Street demonstration -- that will be the final way to pressure the government if it still insists on introducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) next year. This is the conclusion made at an "'Anti-GST" forum held here.

The forum was organised by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (Seremban branch), with the participation of the state PKR, DAP and PAS.

The panellists are S Arutchelvan (PSM secretary-general), Loke Siew Fook (Rasah MP), Mohd Taufek Abdul Ghani (Paroi State Assemblyman) and Badrul Hisham Shahrin (PKR supreme council member). About 50 people attended the forum.

Loke promised that the Pakatan Rakyat MPs will table a motion and pressure the government to abandon the GST when the Dewan Rakyat sitting resumes on March 15. He also suggested that the only way to end government's harassment of the poor in the form of GST is to change the federal government in the next general election.

Badrul Hisham, or popularly known as Chegu Bard, insisted that if the government js stubborn and refused to look into the plight of the people, then the only option left is for the people to take to the streets in a massive show of protest.

Chegu Bard also expressed concern that once the GST Bill is approved, the Finance Minster will increase the GST rate without tabling it in Parliament. (When the Goods and Services Tax Bill 2009 is passed, it will come into force in mid-2011 at a 4% rate. The GST will replace the current sales and services tax.)

Arutchelvan hit out at the mainstream media for misleading the public when they carried out surveys, which concluded that all Malaysians are supporting the introduction of the GST.

"But the media only interviewed professionals who are big earners.

"Of course, the GST is going to benefit the big earners or high-income tax payers.But the ordinary people, including the poor and jobless, are going to suffer," said Arutchelvan.

He asked why the media didn't interview the low and medium-income people. "This clearly shows the government is not sincere."

Taufek criticised the government for citing Singapore as a success story in the implementation of the GST.

"The GST is a success there because the Singapore government is very prudent in its spending and there is little or no corruption.

"Here the government's rationale is that with the introduction of the GST, it will receive an additional RM1 billion in revenue a year. This reasoning is unacceptable because it is an open secret that the government is always wasting money. The government will continue with its profligate ways even after it received the extra RM1 billion through the GST," said Taufek.

Swedish input

Later at a dialogue session, a Swedish university student said once the GST Bill is passed in Parliament, there is no way to stop the rate from escalating.

Citing his country, Olof Holmgren, 28, said although his country is more developed than Malaysia, the GST is a big burden on the Swedish people.

He said that when the Swedish government implemented the GST in the 1960s, it started with a 5% rate and by 1990s, it soared to 25%. "There is no way the people can stop the government from increasing the rate. Thus the GST became a burden on my people," he said.

Olof is here on an exchange programme.

by: FMT

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