Businesses want policy clarity on Pakatan Harapan’s 100th day

by FARA AISYAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE business community is still waiting for clear policies on various issues, including taxation and labour concerns, 100 days since the change in the country’s administration after the 14th General Election.

Small and Medium Enterprises Association Malaysia (Samenta) chairman for policy and government relations Datuk William Ng said from a business perspective, the association is disappointed that there is already an indication that corporate tax will not be lowered, in accordance with regional trends.

He also suggested the Ministry of Finance to come out with the full list of taxable industries and items as soon as possible, so businesses, especially SMEs, can prepare for the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

“Samenta urges the government to resolve the outstanding refund of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) prior to implementing SST. As it is, many SMEs are not able to recoup the investments spent in implementing GST.

“We are eager to support the new Pakatan Harapan government, but the government must recognise that above all else, we need policy clarity — and the sooner the better,” Ng said in a statement yesterday.

He said the government should also acknowledge that prices may not necessarily come down across the board with the repeal of GST and the re-introduction of SST.

“If the goal is to reduce the cost of living, Samenta also suggests the government to partner SMEs and reconsider the freeze on foreign labour. Give us access to more workers — that will help lower our semiskilled workers,” Ng said.

Malaysian Employers Federation ED Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan (picture) said the government should not have made the promise to review workers’ minimum wage to RM1,500 in the first place.

“The government will have to provide an estimated RM1 billion in annual subsidy to employers if it is raised, and it does not have the capital to do that.

“The companies also don’t have enough money to pay higher wages. Recently, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that the government will establish a single system to hire foreign workers, but that also won’t reduce the cost of hiring them for businesses,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Shamsuddin said it will be better for the government to retain and review the current system of hiring foreign workers to the G2G (government-to-government) approach, which will reduce the cost of hiring for employers.

Meanwhile, Affin Hwang Asset Management Bhd equity strategies and advisory director Gan Eng Peng said the government needs to show clear evidence of curbing wastage and leakages.

“We need to start to see this being reflected in better expense/capital expenditure control for government departments and government-linked companies.

“In addition, the government needs to be pro-growth as the risks of high debt and a narrower revenue base subside significantly as gross domestic product gains momentum.

“The key concern of the market is whether the country can continue to grow amid all the kitchen sinking,” he said in a statement yesterday.