$0.5b more GST funds missing than stated: Lim Guan Eng

Mr Lim Guan Eng said he stands by his claims that the previous government had falsified the GST credit refund.
Mr Lim Guan Eng said he stands by his claims that the previous government had falsified the GST credit refund.

Shortfall is actually $6.5b, finance minister says, blaming erroneous figure he cited on misplaced decimal point

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng yesterday stood by his allegations that the previous government had falsified the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit refund, and added that the missing amount was actually larger than what he had declared in Parliament last week.

"The actual amount of shortfall in the fund for unpaid GST input tax is RM19.248 billion (S$6.5 billion), and not RM17.911 billion (S$6 billion) which I had reported to the House last week," Mr Lim told the House.

The money is allegedly missing from the RM19.4 billion meant for GST refunds from April 2015 to May 31, 2018.

On the error in the amount computed, Mr Lim blamed a ministry officer who misplaced a decimal point. "It was announced last week that the available funds (for refund) is approximately RM1.48 billion. However, the real figure is around RM148.6 million," he said.

"It is better that we are transparent and honest with the House than to hide such things, as done by the previous government," he added.

Mr Lim's allegations had led former premier Najib Razak, who was also finance minister, to say he believes the earlier-announced RM17.9 billion "missing" funds may have been spent by the Pakatan Harapan government to make up for fiscal shortfalls after zero-rating the GST in June.

"The government lost a source of income for three months, and it may have spent funds from the consolidated revenue account. These funds are supposed to be channelled to a GST refund trust account for its monthly expenditure," Najib said last Friday.

 
 

He added: "But as usual, the (previous) Barisan Nasional government was blamed for the mistakes even though it is the Pakatan government's fault.

"No monies or funds were 'robbed' because GST collections were channelled to the consolidated revenue account."

Former secretary-general of the Finance Ministry Irwan Serigar Abdullah denied Mr Lim's allegations that the funds were "missing", and lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on Friday.

He said the funds are channelled to a trust account every month. "There are no missing funds," he said.

Mr Lim maintained yesterday that the problem of GST refunds left unpaid to businesses was due to the weak cash flow of the previous administration, brought about by poor fiscal discipline and an increase in large debts.

"What the previous government had done was the falsifying of accounts and abuse of the fund to make payments for other purposes, or to cover the deficit to show a surplus. This is still the truth," he alleged.

Najib said last week that he would be willing to cooperate with any MACC or police investigation into reports lodged on the matter in his capacity as the former finance minister.

BERNAMA, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2018, with the headline '$0.5b more GST funds missing than stated: Lim Guan Eng'. Print Edition | Subscribe