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  • A truly efficient government will not reverse its earlier decisions on a regular basis.

Sin Chew Daily

The removal of more than 60 food items under seven categories from the list of zero-rated products became a heated topic among the people soon after the news was carried in the media. The public were worried about a new wave of inflationary pressure and increased financial burden as a result of this.

Nevertheless, the Customs Department steered a sharp U-turn the following day, announcing in a statement that the decision to impose 6% GST on these items had been cancelled.

Indeed, it was a right thing for the government to do to show that it understood the woes of the people so that they could now draw a sigh of relief. Among the food items are seafood, potato, spinach, maize, vermicelli, koay teow, etc which we consume every day.

If these food items are subjected to 6% GST, it is foreseeable that the public will feel the additional living burden, and in the worst case scenario may even spark another round of inflation.

Given the current economic situation against the backdrop of a depreciating local currency, the purchasing power of Malaysian consumers has dropped, especially those living in bigger towns and cities. Any negative development is poised to increase their burden. As such, imposing 6% GST on these seven categories of food items has been untimely.

Although the government has the right to impose GST on any product, it needs to take into account the prevailing conditions as well as the economic bearability of the rakyat before making any decision. This is to avoid increasing the people's burden and dampening the already weak consumer confidence at a time the economy is slowing.

GST will inevitably impact the day-to-day lives of ordinary citizens, and the government's duty is to do its best to minimize the negative impact and help consumers adapt to the new changes.

Anyway, the last-minute turnaround on the part of the government has put everything back to square one, which is a right move that has won the approval of the public.

The question is: Such a drastic turnaround shouldn't have happened repeatedly to a truly efficient government.

This is not the first time the government has reversed its earlier decisions. Even though the latest turnaround is a boon to the public, where procedures and efficiency are concerned, reversals should be avoided as far as possible.

Second finance minister Johari Abdul Ghani announced the revised GST list in a gazetted document, removing seven categories of food items from the list of zero-rated products with effect from July 1. The list was uploaded to the Customs Dept's GST site on July 18.

However, the Customs Dept announced on the following day to cancel the notice, showing the hasty move in effectuating the turnaround.

It is essential for the authorities to take into account all relevant factors before making a key decision, so that such hasty turnarounds could be avoided and the public would not be unnecessarily alarmed.



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