KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has clarified that the amount left in the government's trust fund meant for Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds was not RM1.486 billion, but only a tenth of that figure.
He said in his speech in the Dewan Rakyat last week, he had revealed that the total outstanding amount of GST refunds since its introduction in 2015 was RM19.4 billion, but that only RM1.486 billion remained in the trust fund, leaving the government with a shortfall of close to RM18 billion.
Lim, however, today clarified that there was an error to the RM1.486 billion figure quoted and that the amount remaining was much lower than that – only RM148.6 million.
“Actually, the amount remaining in the trust fund is only about RM148.6 million and not RM1,486 million (RM1.486 billion) as revealed last week. This is an accidental error by one of my officers who misplaced the decimal point.
“What this means is the amount missing from the trust fund is much bigger than what was reported before, that is RM19.248 billion and not RM17.911 billion as mentioned,” he told the Dewan Rakyat, here, today.
“I apologise for this mistake. But I feel it is better for us to be transparent and frank to the Dewan than hiding a matter of such importance like what the previous government did,” he added.
Lim said of the RM19.4 billion outstanding GST refund since 2015, RM9.2 billion was for the year 2018 up to May 31, RM6.8 billion was for 2017, RM2.8 billion for 2016 and RM600 million for 2015.
He said the payment arrears was to be attributed to the previous government's weak cash flow due to the lack of fiscal discipline, overspending and wastage, and increased debt.
“What was done by the previous administration was the falsification of accounts and misappropriation of funds meant for the GST refund for other uses or to cover up on deficits so they can portray a more rosy picture,” he said.
Lim had, on Aug 8, alleged that some RM18 billion was missing from the trust fund meant for GST tax refunds (input tax), which was initially scheduled to be paid back to businesses within two weeks after businesses filed their claims.
He said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government discovered the missing money following an internal audit and inspection by the Customs Department.