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Sunday, February 28, 2016

GST implementation is a sell-out of Sarawak's rights



MP SPEAKS On average, every Sarawakian has paid a whooping RM1,000 for the goods and services tax (GST) in the first nine months of its implementation.
According to the Royal Malaysian Customs Department, the total GST collection for the first nine months of its implementation (April 1 till Dec 31, 2015) had exceeded RM30 billion.
Sarawak’s population is 1/10th of Malaysia’s total population and its economy size is approximately 10 percent of the national’s economy. Therefore, out of the RM30 billion GST collection, RM3 billion is estimated to be coming from Sarawakians.
Given that the population of Sarawak is approximately three million, RM3 billion is a whooping RM1,000 of GST payment for every Sarawakian - from babies to old folk.
The biggest irony of it all is that, despite the constant trumped-up autonomy agenda of Chief Minister Adenan Satem, Sarawak BN’s support for the GST is actually a surrender and a sell-out of the state’s autonomy which would hurt the people of Sarawak most.
Under the federal constitution, the Sarawak government has the right to collect sales tax, which constitutes a major part of the GST.
By supporting the GST implementation, Sarawak BN is in effect surrendering its autonomy to collect sales tax to the federal government, unless it intends to subject all Sarawakians to both GST and sales taxes, a double whammy.
If the Sarawak government truly wants autonomy for the state, the most important item is to increase its source of revenue.
Getting nowhere
That was also the reason why shortly (three months) after Adenan became the chief minister, the Sarawak state assembly had accepted and passed a motion to demand for the increase of oil and gas royalties from five to 20 percent.
Twenty-one months have gone by, yet Adenan is getting nowhere on this motion. He has even dropped the 20 percent oil and gas royalty agenda from being the top priority item, to the last priority item.
The saddest thing is, at the same time when the state government had failed to get the 20 percent oil and gas royalties, the common people of Sarawak have - on average - been forced to part with RM1,000 each in the form of GST payment to the federal government.
While Adenan is bragging about the 13 points in the provision of administrative empowerment which he had successfully fought for from the federal government, these so-called 13 points are - in actual fact - mere administrative power, not true autonomy.
More importantly, these “administrative empowerment” do not bring direct benefit to the common people of Sarawak.
On one hand as Adenan boasts about the said “autonomy”, he is surreptitiously surrendering Sarawak’s autonomy on sales tax to the federal government, which affects every Sarawakian and hurts our economy as a whole.
Therefore, Adenan’s autonomy agenda is, in fact, only a show to create a “feel good” factor amongst the people, but which has no direct tangible benefits to the people of Sarawak.
If Adenan truly wishes to do good for Sarawak and its people, he should immediately pull out from the Umno-led BN and force the reduction of GST to zero rate - instead of continuing to hug and support Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

CHONG CHIENG JEN is Bandar Kuching MP and state assemblyperson for Kota Sentosa. -Mkini

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