GEORGE TOWN – Incoming finance minister Lim Guan Eng said today that the government had taken note of the “spirited” defence of the Goods and Services Tax by the Customs Department but would go ahead and repeal it anyway.

He said the abolition of GST was among Pakatan Harapan’s campaign promises and it was a priority to get rid of the consumption tax. “However, I cannot give any instruction until I am sworn in as finance minister. We’ve taken note of the spirited defence of GST by the Customs,” Lim said.

He had been asked at a news conference whether he had already ordered the Customs to abolish the tax.

A think-tank had recently called for improvements to be made to the existing GST mechanism instead. Ali Salman, acting head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, said the GST was not the cause of the rising cost of goods.

He said the institute’s analysis of the consumer price index had shown that the cost of living had been rising regardless of the tax, which he said was important for fiscal management. The GST brought in RM44 billion in revenue last year. The way forward was through improving GST mechanisms rather than bringing back the old Sales and Services Tax, which had raised only about RM17 billion.