KUALA LUMPUR: The RM18 billion shortfall in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds did not happen within a month but occurred over a three-year period since its implementation on April 1, 2015, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
In a statement today, Lim questioned the former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s allegation that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had spent RM18 billion within days after he and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad were sworn in as Finance Minister and Prime Minister, respectively.
“Can Najib prove his claim that the new PH government was able to spend RM18 billion in only three weeks when he had failed to return the GST refunds in three years, though the law required it to be refunded in two weeks,” he asked.
Lim also questioned whether Najib, who was also the former Finance Minister, had authorised Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the former Finance Ministry Secretary-General, not to transfer RM18 billion into the GST Refunds trust account.
“If Irwan (Serigar) denies that the GST refunds payments are missing, why is it that taxpayers are still unable to receive their refunds, some for as long as three years,” he said.
On Friday, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department Director-General Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy publicly stated that he had been requesting for RM82.9 billion to be transferred to the GST Refund Trust account at the monthly Trust Fund committee meeting chaired by Irwan Serigar since 2015.
“This was not done by Irwan (Serigar) despite the requests by the Customs Department during the monthly meetings that he chaired.
“Subromaniam confirmed that RM19.4 billion had not been transferred in full as at May 31, 2018,” said Lim.
He added that a full report on the internal inquiry, headed by the new Treasury Secretary-General Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar, would be submitted soon, followed by a proposal to the Prime Minister and Cabinet for an open inquiry headed by independent professionals.
Lim said the Finance Ministry would also co-operate with authorities investigating the matter.
According to news reports, Najib denied that his administration had misappropriated the RM18 billion in input tax credit under the GST and said that PH may have spent the money from the consolidated trust fund to cover the government’s monthly expenses. – Bernama