KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) wants the government to scrap the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) planned for implementation starting April next year.
MTUC Exco and Council Member, Sivanathan Arumugam, said the organization opposed the introduction of GST as it fears the new tax system would burden the people especially the low and medium income groups, who would have to pay more for the same products and services they are using today.
Speaking to reporters here yesterday, he said although GST, which has been promoted as a more efficient and transparent taxation system that has long been practised by developed countries, it was still unclear how much it would dig into the pocket of the ordinary working men and women in Malaysia.
“GST might benefit the government as they would gain more income from a broader taxation but it is a real burden to the lower and middle income group, who are already struggling with higher cost of living caused by the increase in utilities tariff and prices of daily goods.
“It is not very clear until now how much the six per cent GST will be totally exempted for the workers in the low and medium income cap and we believe that once implemented people will be affected and burdened.
“For example, in medical cost, although the doctor’s fee may be exempted, what about medicine and medical appliances? They are not subject to exemption. So, there will be additional cost. This is why we are rejecting the proposed implementation of the GST,” he said.
Sivanathan also demanded for current laws affecting the working class, such as the Employment Act and SOCSO Act to be amended to remove provisions impending the rights of employees, in line with the government’s manifesto of adopting a people-first policy.
However he did not specify which provisions or articles in any of these Acts should be looked into.
On another issue he urged for the implementation of the minimum Act to be stepped up by getting related enforcement agencies to conduct rigorous check across the country to ensure total compliance among employers.
He lamented that although the government was moving in the right direction by slowly introducing such an Act including in Sabah and Sarawak, enforcement was still lacking thus allowing errant bosses to continue taking advantage of their workers by refusing to pay the minimum rate.
“What we heard is that there are many industries who are not adhering to the minimum wage. Also, we don’t want allowances and all that be added as minimum wage. Minimum wage should not include allowances and service charges,” he said.
He also informed that MTUC was pushing for the minimum wage of RM900 for Peninsular Malaysia and RM800 for Sabah and Sarawak to be reviewed to a uniformed rate of RM1,200, plus RM300 Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).