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Listen to the experts

  • In the midst of deafening political noises, it is not a bad idea to lend an ear to the experts. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

Sin Chew Daily

In the midst of deafening political noises, it is not a bad idea to lend an ear to the experts.

After the country's political scenario took a dramatic turn in 2008, competition between the ruling and opposition alliances has been intensifying by the day. To win the much needed votes, both sides have resorted to populism in a bid to please the voters.

Such an inclination has been unreservedly manifested when PH and later BN unveiled their election manifestos. BN's increased BR1M giveaways and PH's pledge to abolish GST have all been tailored to the voters' needs.

Even though the ultimate goal of political parties is to take hold of the federal administration, they nevertheless need to remain highly cautious so as not to blindly please the voters and make unreasonable or unrealistic promises.

On some vital issues and policies, it is essential that they refrain from wholly dependent on political factors when making their decisions. They should instead think rationally and listen to what experts have to say.

What the Malaysian Association of Tax Accountants president Datuk Abd Aziz Abu Bakar said of BR1M and GST recently deserve some serious contemplation.

He said while BR1M could indeed help the B40 group, it must not become a permanent policy.

Undeniably, BR1M is a highly popular measure with up to seven million beneficiaries in this country. To the impoverished families and low-income individuals, BR1M does provide a temporary relief to their financial woes. But this can never be a long-term solution.

Chronic handouts will only deepen these people's dependency on the government, further taxing the national coffers and pulling back the country's development.

Politicians must be farsighted enough to look at this BR1M thing pragmatically from the economic perspectives, and should try to limit its continued expansion so as not to become a burden to the country in future.

As for GST, Abd Aziz is of the opinion that this is a good system that should not be abolished. The same view is shared by many other scholars too.

Unfortunately in our highly competitive political spheres, GST abolition has become a tool exploited by politicians to win over the hearts of voters.

PH has pledged that GST will be abolished within its first 100 days in office.

To be honest, prior to the GST implementation the government was heavily depending on oil revenue, itself a source of financial instability. Since GST was introduced, the government has successfully expanded its tax base to ensure stable and lucrative tax revenue. This will in turn help improve the country's fiscal health.

Simply put, there is a positive side of GST which is an effective and efficient taxation scheme that should not be revoked lightly.

Of course, there are still questions on whether this measure has increased the financial burden of the rakyat and whether the tax scope and rate are reasonable. Such problems can be mitigated through appropriate fine-tuning.

It looks like our political parties are more concerned about near-term gains and how the voters will react.

Meanwhile, financial experts devoid of political burden should be able to come up with sound judgments through their evaluation of issues from a more long-term economic point of view.

 

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