Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 3.11.2016.
Inland Revenue Board (IRB) CEO Tan Sri Dr Mohd Shukor Mahfar was quoted in the Malaysian Reserve on 28.1.2016 as saying that for the second consecutive year, tax revenue is expected to drop by 5% to an estimated RM115 billion from last year’s reduced RM121.23 billion collection. Muhd Shukor said the 5% drop is consistent with the drastic fall in crude oil prices from around US$110 per barrel in 2014 to the current price of US$45 per barrel, as 30% of IRB’s collection comes from the oil and gas (O&G) sector.
This tax collection shortfall coupled with the twin shocks of corruption (RM52 bilion 1MDB and the RM4.2 billion donation scandals) and the rapid depreciation of the ringgit has caused the BN Federal government to implement the GST. GST has caused hardship to the people with price rises and poor business, despite the promises by then BN Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan that GST will cause prices of goods to go down.
It is not just cooking oil and petrol prices going up now, but also highway toll hikes next year. DAP is concerned that the expected 5% drop of 2016 tax revenue highlights a declining economy worsened by GST and arbitrary or high-handed tax audits hounding businesses to make up the tax revenue shortfall.
What is worrying is that the IRB in attempting to make up for the tax collection shortfall is carrying out high-handed and arbitrary tax audits on the field that victimizes the businesses. Whilst there is nothing wrong for such enthusiasm bordering on downright hostile aggression by IRB, against businessmen for allegedly evading paying taxes, why is there no similar treatment on businessmen such as Jho Low and his father Tan Sri Larry Low or other of his family members?
The lack of enthusiasm by IRB in demanding payments from Jho Low is unfair and will only lend suspicions of double-standards in tax enforcement. Further if Jho Low tax payments are not enough, IRB can always see extra tax payments from those who receive generous donations overseas, especially from those having RM4.2 billion in their personal bank account. If IRB refuses to investigate JHO Low and his family or those having RM4.2 billion in their personal bank accounts, then IRB has no right to conduct any tax audits or investigations on ordinary Malaysian businessmen.
Clearly BN has no idea how to help ordinary Malaysians lessen their economic hardship but has also failed in economic management in running the country for the benefit of cronies instead for Malaysians. For instance Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said that according to the original agreement for the North-South Expressway in 1988, the highway concession was supposed to end in 2018 but it was then extended to 31 December 2038.
Fadillah also said the North-South expressway was built in 1989 and was completed in 1994 at a cost of RM5.9 billion, which was fully borne by PLUS, the concessionaire. Costs incurred in land acquisition were covered by the Federal government.
Fadillah said until the end of 2015, the overall toll collected for the North-South Expressway alone was RM36.39 billion. The total amount of compensation paid out by the Federal government to PLUS following the deferment in toll hikes until 2015 was RM917.1 million. In other words, this RM 36.39 billion collected from Malaysians, is 6 times more than the construction cost of RM 5.9 billion.
By right, toll collection should be abolished. Malaysians must be allowed to use the North-South Highway free of charge if the BN Federal government is a people-centric government. Unfortunately BN only looks after its cronies to earn extraordinary profits at the expense of 30 million Malaysians by allowing the North-South Highway to continue unjustifiably to collect toll.
LIM GUAN ENG