KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 – Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) got into a verbal tussle over whether the Sales and Services Tax (SST) has led to a further rise in the cost of living.
The furore in the Dewan Rakyat began when Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (BN-Bera), in putting forward his supplementary question, insinuated that the SST has led to an increase in the price of goods.
Lim retorted that Ismail did not have the proper information on the matter, as the Statistics Department of Malaysia had revealed that there had been a decrease in the inflation rate from July’s 0.8 per cent to August’s 0.2 per cent.
He pointed out that this is the second-lowest inflation rate in Malaysiaâ€™s history, matched only by the 0.1 per cent recorded in the month before the GST was introduced on April 1, 2015.
Lim said that this shows that the GST had a direct effect on inflation, and that the Pakatan Harapan government had never promised that the SST would lead to a fall in the price of goods.
At this juncture, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) interjected by stating that the newly-sworn-in Port Dickson MP, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, should be the finance minister, instead of Lim.
“Just let Datuk Seri Anwar take over,” he said, to murmurs of agreement from fellow opposition MPs.
Not backing down, Lim asked Ismail for proof that he had ever claimed that the SST would lead to a decrease in prices.
He added that the opposition should stop spreading malicious and baseless slander.
“The PD by-election showed that the spread of malicious slander is no longer effective, as the people have decided that (it is an obsolete political tool). Now, we focus on facts,” he said.
Lim’s statement caused angry murmurs to reverberate throughout the August House, with Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof reminding lawmakers that this was a Question and Answer Session and not a debate.
To Ismailâ€™s supplementary question on what the new taxes which would be introduced to increase the governmentâ€™s revenue will be, Lim told him to wait patiently like all other Malaysians for the Budget, which will be tabled on Nov 2.