Actual missing amount from GST refund is RM19b

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Graphic By TMR

The government revealed the actual amount missing from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) input refunds is RM19.25 billion instead of RM17.91 billion as reported last week.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced the shortfall for the GST input refunds is an amount far larger than what was declared in the Dewan Rakyat last Wednesday.

“I had told the amount missing from the GST refund fund was RM17.91 billion because the existing balance in the fund was RM1.486 billion, as announced last week.

“However, due to a mistake in placement of a decimal point, the actual balance in the GST refund fund actually was only RM148.6 million,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Lim justified the mistake of his officer, saying it was an accidental mistake when the figures was presented last week during the tabling of the second GST (Repeal) Bill 2018.

Citing records from the Royal Malaysian Customs Department on the GST input tax, the minister said RM17.91 billion was missing from the GST refund fund. Lim revealed the shortfall in the amount that was supposed to be refunded to businesses is far larger.

“I had earlier said it was RM17.91 billion that was missing, but in actual fact, the amount missing from 2015 up to May 2018 is a staggering RM19.248 billion,” he said.

Of the total amount of RM19.4 billion in arrears, RM9.2 billion is from 2018, RM6.8 billion from 2017, RM2.8 billion from 2016 and RM610,000 million from 2015.

Last week, former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak in his defence said the GST collections, which are similar to other tax collections and government revenue, were channelled directly to the consolidated trust fund.

From there, Najib said the funds are transferred monthly into the GST claims trust account to meet the provisions of the GST Act 2014.

“The amount was supposed to be refunded to businesses within two weeks. However, the previous government failed to do so because they did not transfer back the RM19.248 billion into the fund to begin with,” he said.

The input tax credit under the GST system permits businesses to claim credit for taxes paid on purchases after submission of proper documents.

Lim maintained the repayment arrears were due to flaws by the previous federal government in maintaining a proper fiscal discipline, wide- spread wastage and huge debt increments.

“What the old administration actually did was forging accounts, as well as collecting fake tax refund for other uses or to cover the deficit so they can show the excess instead,” said Lim.