Irwan: The money is all there

  • Nation
  • Friday, 10 Aug 2018

PETALING JAYA: Former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah flatly dismissed allegations that RM18bil is “missing” from the collection of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and instead claimed that all monies collected goes into the Federal Government’s consolidated funds.

In welcoming an investigation into the matter, Irwan said that the Customs Department requirements for refunds under the GST are channelled to a trust account every month.

He said the amount allocated is decided at the monthly Federal Government Cashflow Management meeting, which is chaired by the Treasury secretary-general and also attended by the director-general of Customs Department, among others.

“The money is put into the trust account based on the amount required by the Customs Department. It is released in stages and the amount is decided in the monthly cashflow management meeting,” he told reporters.

“There are no missing funds. The Treasury allocates to the GST trust account for refunds based on the requirement of the Customs Department and financial position of the government. The information is available in the Accountant-General’s Department and Fiscal Division of the Ministry of Finance,” said Irwan.

The other officials in the monthly meeting are the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) chief executive, deputy secretary-general of Treasury, division secretaries under the Finance Ministry and a representative from Bank Negara.

Apart from the Customs Department, the monthly meeting on the cashflow management of the Federal Government also decides on the amount to be allocated to the IRB for refunds.

“In that meeting the Customs Department will present the amount required for refunds under the GST while the IRB would also present the refunds required for them. Based on the requirements of the two departments and cash-flow position of the government, the meeting would decide on the amount to be allocated to the two trust accounts.”

Irwan said that the delay in refunds is because of audit investigations into the accounts when the department suspects fraud in submissions.

As for the Customs Department, he said RM23bil was refunded in 2017 while RM15bil was outstanding and can only be paid out pending verification and audit investigations.

He said the monies refunded and pending refunds amounted to 58% of the gross GST proceeds of RM67bil in 2017.

“It is a sum that is large for auditing. If the claims are clear and the department does not suspect any fraud, the refund is done within 14 days. If there is suspicion of fraud, investigations, it takes time for the refund,” he said.

Irwan said he was neither criticising anyone nor was he worried.

“I welcome the investigations (over the alleged missing RM18bil),” Irwan said in his first meeting with the media since his contract was abruptly terminated in June this year.

Irwan, who has been with the Treasury since 2002, said all monies received by the Federal Government from the proceeds of the Customs Department and IRB to dividends from Petronas and Bank Negara and payments from police summons and licensing permits goes into the Federal Government Consolidated Funds.

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