KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 – The goods and services tax (GST) system must be executed transparently and efficiently, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in denying the prime minister’s claim that he had agreed to impose the GST while he was finance minister more than two decades ago. The opposition leader said Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claim was “disingenuous and misleading”, and stressed that the tax system was never implemented under his watch. Anwar said he had made it clear in Parliament then that the proposed tax system must be carried out in a transparent and efficient manner, and that certain prerequisites had to be met before its implementation.
“These included proper governance, transparency, no leakage and wastage, and safeguards against corrupt practices and I had also emphasised that the GST should start at a low level. “These pre-conditions have not been fulfilled and that was why the GST was never implemented during my watch as finance minister,” Anwar said in a statement today. Anwar’s response comes in the wake of Najib’s speech when closing a briefing session on the GST two days ago, where the prime minister had said that he was not the first finance minister to push the GST.
“The first finance minister who said that the government wanted to impose GST in his budget speech in 1992 was Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” Najib had said on Wednesday. Najib had also said that the GST was not new and had been announced by three previous finance ministers, including Tun Daim Zainuddin and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Najib added that the tax system slated to be implemented in April next year would not burden Malaysians.