Najib claims that Domestic Trade Minister Saifuddin 'admitted' GST not cause of inflation

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan has to “swallow the reality” after its own minister admitted that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was not the main reason for the increase of prices, said former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Najib said this was despite Pakatan associating GST with the increase of prices and using the tax as its main issue to criticise the former Barisan Nasional government.

“I was shocked this morning when reading a statement by a Pakatan minister who admitted that the GST was not the main reason for the increase of prices, although that was the issue and criticism used against the government before the general election.

“At the time, Pakatan did not accept our answer but instead ridiculed it. Now, Pakatan has to swallow the reality behind their own accusations,” said Najib in a statement posted on his official Facebook page Thursday (July 12).

Najib was alluding to Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Minister Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail saying on Wednesday (July 11) via Bernama News Channel that the small drop in the prices of goods was the reason why the people have not been able to fully feel or realise the effects of the GST which was zero-rated since June 1.

However, Najib may have been misrepresenting Saifuddin's words, as the latter had also said that over 70% of 417 goods surveyed saw a price drop of between 0.04% and 13% after GST was zero rated on June 1.

The KPDNHEP Minister had explained on July 11 that Ministry enforcement officers had surveyed 1,688 premises over 35 days from June 1, involving 417 items used by consumers, including wet and dry goods as well as items for infants.

However, Saifuddin had also said that the small drop in the prices of goods was why people have not been able to fully "feel" the effects of the GST zero rating.

The Minister added that food and beverage prices were lower at fast food outlets, but at Indian Muslim or "mamak" restaurants, prices remained unchanged, and in some eateries, even increased.

Najib said he was worried that when the Sales and Services Tax (SST) is re-introduced come September, the prices of goods will climb higher compared to before GST was zero rated.

“This is the danger when the tax system is changed at their own whim. Barisan has already warned about this before the GE14.

“This will of course impact the people’s cost of living and goes against Pakatan’s pledge in their manifesto to reduce the cost of living,” said Najib.

He added that he hoped the Pakatan government would do something to ensure that this concern did not become reality.