FORMER Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak urged the Government to be realistic in its tax collection projection for this year, instead of just plucking numbers out of thin air.
“Is it realistic for us to collect over RM140 bil in taxes in this year? COVID-19 is still with us and fresh graduates starting salary has gone down to the minimum age level.
“And much of our sectors, such as aviation and tourism, are still paralysed due to the pandemic,” he said, in a Facebook post.
On March 1, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced that the Government would be able to collect RM143.9 bil in tax revenue this year as they are looking at “new opportunities”.
“The Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) is finding new avenues to increase its tax collection by identifying new potentials, especially those who had been under the radar,” he was reported saying.
Citing statistics, Najib said that LHDN collected RM123 bil in 2017, but its collection rate improved in the following years.
“In 2019, the LHDN collected RM140 bil despite the economy underperforming for the first time in the last 10 years. However, there were complaints that the Government then were too aggressive in their methods to meet the shortfall following the abolishment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“Last year, LHDN only collected RM123 bil due to the pandemic. But for some reason, the Perikatan Nasional had increased its projection to RM144 bil this year, which is way beyond the sum collected in 2017, when our economy was doing well,” he stated.
Najib the urged the Government not to use “aggressive methods” to increase tax collection during an economic recession, as it would only add more pressure to the already struggling populace.
“Are they going to use the ‘pay first, talk later’ approach on the people, as per the Government’s gazette in December last year?
“Plus, our Prime Minister has revealed recently that the Government is short of cash, following the stimulus packages launched worth RM600 bil since last year,” the Pekan MP remarked. – April 15, 2021