The government’s decision to implement the goods and services tax (GST) has nothing to do with the 1MDB scandal, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said today.
In his speech at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) 50th-anniversary gala dinner, Najib once again defended the six percent tax and said it was introduced to ensure that the country’s economic fundamentals remained strong amid global uncertainties.
“It (GST) has nothing whatsoever to do with 1MDB, whose rationalisation programme is going well.
“There is simply no connection, and anyone who says otherwise is deliberately lying and trying to deceive the Malaysian people,” he stressed.
Among others, former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had last month claimed that part of 1MDB’s debts would be financed by the public through higher taxes, including an increase in GST.
Responding to Mahathir, Najib had at the time denied the allegations and expressed hoped that more Malaysians would also reject such alleged lies.
Addressing the guests comprising of Mida employees tonight, Najib further said that respected economists around the world have commended Malaysia for implementing the GST as a measure to sustain the economy.
“All of this has not come by chance.
“Instead, as Mida employees know very well, it is because of the government’s careful stewardship of the economy,” said Najib.
Among others, he cited improved forecasts from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Malaysia’s domestic growth.
Aside from the GST, Najib said he had also been personally promoting Malaysia’s investment opportunities to the world’s largest economic leaders.
“Be it with (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe, (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi, (Saudi Arabia’s) King Salman or (US President Donald) Trump, it is important for Malaysia to build good relationships with other countries in order to attract foreign investments.
“This is why international investors – whether from China, Britain, India, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else – have confidence in Malaysia,” he said, adding that the foreign leaders were confident that Malaysia can deliver its plans to sustain the domestic economy.
‘From eight pioneer companies to thousands of multi-national corporations’
In acknowledging Mida’s role as the national investment promotion agency, Najib said a lot of effort was put in to convince the first eight pioneer foreign companies to invest in Bayan Lepas, Penang, at the time when it was first gazetted as a free trade zone.
Since then, he said over 5,000 foreign multi-national companies from 40 countries have chosen Malaysia as an investment destination and a springboard to reach other regional and global markets.
“These businesses know that the siren voices of past politicians who are making all sorts of ridiculous claims that the country is going bankrupt are doing so for their own selfish political ends,” he said.
Also present during the dinner held at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur were International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, his deputy Ahmad Maslan, and Mida chairperson Amirsham Abdul Aziz.
– Malay mail