THE Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be implemented with effect from April 1, 2015, replacing Malaysia’s sales tax (10%) and service tax (6%).
With the introduction of the new system, there are bound to be concerns raised by different groups of people on their understanding of the tax system and how it will affect them.
In this question-and-answer series, StarMetro talked to undergraduates Tee Wei Keat, 21, and Rachel Fong, 23, to learn more about their concerns as well as interests about GST as students thriving in the current Malaysian society.
Tee is a Diploma in Business student who is living with his parents, while Fong is a Bachelor in Mass Communication student who is living on her own.
She is originally from Penang.
1. What is your first thought about the GST implementation in Malaysia next year?
Fong: At first I was happy that dining out would cost 10% less, but as I discovered GST applies to a wider range of items, I became worried about the impending added cost of living.
Tee: My first thought was, why is the Government implementing this now when people are already struggling to cope with price hikes in the market?
2. What do you know about GST affecting businesses in the supply chain?
Fong: Not much to be honest, but I guess it will also add more costs to the manufacturing process, which might cause businesses to raise the prices of their goods.
Tee: Based on what I heard, I think suppliers will gain more in profit.
3. How do you think it will affect you?
Fong: The main and first aspect is that it will affect me because of raised cost of living.
Tee: Products we buy will become more expensive.
4. What are your worries for yourself in the future?
Fong: Less monthly savings, and thus even less savings for big-ticket items in the future such as a house and travelling funds.
Tee: I am worried that even fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), such as toiletries, soft drinks, processed food, and over-the-counter medicine will be sold at a higher cost.
5. What are your worries for your family members?
Fong: As most of my family members have already been working for some time and have higher and more stable incomes, I am less worried about the impact of GST on their day-to-day life.
Tee: I am afraid that they may have to work harder for the money, which in turn, would jeopardise their health due to stress and fatigue.
6. How does it affect your decision-making process in selecting a job that pays enough to cope with tough times in the future?
Fong: A fair bit I would say. I will now have to take into consideration how much the GST would add to my current living costs, and make sure my future job would pay enough to help me maintain my standard of living as much as possible while still being able to retain savings.
Tee: If it is serious enough, I might have to rely on other sources of income instead of getting my income from one full-time job.
7. What do you think about job opportunities in where you are currently living?
Fong: They are decent, and it still shouldn’t be too hard to find a job that pays decently as well, but one must never be too choosy under such economically difficult times.
Tee: I would not say they are great, but I think it will only be a lesser worry for those who have been working quite a while now. My question is this, what about fresh graduates who are living outside alone, with very limited help from their parents? Who is going to help them if they are in need of money due to insufficient earnings?
8. How much do you spend in a month?
Fong: I am getting about RM800 as monthly allowance.
Tee: About RM300-RM600 on three meals a day, but it depends because sometimes I get to eat at home.
9. Based on your knowledge on how GST applies to food, do you think you will be eating in more or still prefer to eat at restaurants and coffee shops?
Fong: I would try to eat in more, and make restaurants and coffee shops a weekly or bi-weekly treat. Despite everything, I still think it is important to treat yourself to a good meal every once in a while because studying can be quite stressful.
Tee: I would rather buy the ingredients and cook on my own. Restaurants will eventually increase their services tax because the chefs and workers need more money as well to make it through tax increases due to GST.
10. Based on your own opinion, what are some of the ways the Government can help ease the financial burden of the rakyat?
Fong: Think about providing more low-to middle-priced housing that fits the pay checks the working class are afforded now, as well as control and, if possible, decrease the price of groceries as much as they can. More benefits for students should also be encouraged, such as student discounts.
Tee: I still do not think it is a good idea for the Government to implement the GST because with more expensive products, what will happen to the poor and the middle-class people who are already struggling to make ends meet?