Lim refutes Najib’s claim on GST refunds

PETALING JAYA: The RM18 billion shortfall in GST refunds was not incurred within one month but built up over three years since April 1, 2015, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

In a press statement issued today, he refuted former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak's claim that the shortfall was because the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had spent the sum and was blaming the previous government for it.

“The RM18 billion shortfall in refunds was not incurred within one month but built up over three years since April 1, 2015. Further, this RM18 billion shortfall is as of 31st May 2018. Can Najib prove his claim that the new PH government was able to spend RM18 billion in only three weeks when Najib failed to return GST refunds by three years when the law requires it to be refunded in two weeks?” he said.

Lim also pointed out that it was not possible for Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to spend RM18 billion in three weeks after he took office nor was it possible for Lim to spend the huge amount as he only assumed office on May 21 this year.

“This accusation by Najib defies logic and beggars belief similar to Najib's claims that 1MDB's RM50 billion is not a financial scandal or a loss to the country, or the seizure of hundreds of millions of ringgit in cash, jewellery and 274 designer handbags are gifts to him, or that RM3.5 million cash stolen from the Prime Minister's office by security guards belongs not to him but to Umno,” he added.

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Lim reiterated that Najib must come clean on these scandals, as well as on his role in the RM18 billion missing GST refunds scandal.

“Bear in mind that only the Minister of Finance can instruct that GST refunds be delayed beyond the legally stipulated two weeks period, or that GST payments be made into the Consolidated Revenue Account instead of the Fund for GST Refunds Account,” he added.

Yesterday, Customs Department Director-General Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said he had requested for a total of RM82.9 billion to be transferred to the GST Refund Trust account at the monthly Trust Fund committee meeting chaired by former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Irwan Serigar Abdullah since 2015.

“This was not done by Irwan. Despite the Customs Department making requests during the monthly meetings chaired by Irwan, Subromaniam confirmed that RM19.4 billion had still not been transferred in full as of May 31 this year.

“If Irwan denies that the GST refund payments are missing, why is it that taxpayers are still unable to receive their refunds, some for as long as three years” he asked.

Najib had accused the PH government of having spent money in the Consolidated Fund meant for goods and services tax (GST) refunds to businesses.

He said the money was supposed to be channelled to a trust account to make the refunds but the PH government spent it after it lost revenue by zero-rating the GST for three months before implementing its proposed sales and services tax (SST).

This came after Lim alleged when winding up the debate on the Sales Tax Bill 2018 in the Dewan Rakyat, that the BN administration “robbed” the GST refund money meant to be returned to businesses within two weeks of them submitting their claims.

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