It’s a violation of the law, says AG

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019

Attorney General Tommy Thomas

KUALA LUMPUR: The former administration’s move to direct all the Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue into the Consolidated Fund account is a violation of the law, says Attorney General Tommy Thomas (pic).

Thomas said this was against Section 7 of the Financial Procedure Act 1957 and Section 54 of the GST Act 2014.

“This was a breach of fundamental trust law principles and trust accounting requirements.

“The (previous) administration’s practice to channel the GST revenue into the Consolidated Fund account is a neglect to Section 54 of the GST Act which assures that taxpayers will receive their refunds if they qualify,” said Thomas in a letter dated Oct 9, 2018, to the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) proceedings on the missing RM19.4bil GST refunds.

The letter is contained in the PAC report.

He said that although criminal liability on breach of trust was not discussed, the issue is “open to a criminal investigation by the police”.

Meanwhile, Opposition lawmakers want the issue over the “missing” GST refunds to be debated in Parliament by this week.

Their request will be formally made through an emergency motion after the Parliament’s PAC found that RM19.4bil of the GST credit refund was not missing as claimed by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“This means that the Bagan MP (Lim) had misled and lied to Parliament.

“He has gone against Standing Order 36 and we want the matter to be debated and he should be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee in the current Dewan meeting,” Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob told reporters at a press conference in Parliament yesterday.

He said it was crucial for the motion to be debated during the current Parliament meeting as Lim’s allegations that the RM19.4bil was “robbed and stolen” had cast a bad light on the previous administration.

“The allegations are serious and cannot be forgiven,” the Opposition chief added.

Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who was present at the press conference, said they had no problems accepting the PAC’s criticism on the procedural aspect on how the GST fund was handled.

“We can accept the PAC’s criticism but to say it was stolen is wrong,” he said.

Dr Wee also noted that the Auditor-General had confirmed that verified GST credit refund of RM5.06bil had been refunded following request by the Customs Department.

He also said that the Attorney General, in his response to the PAC, had not once mentioned the word “stolen”.

Dr Wee noted that he had raised the issue over Lim’s allegations in the Parlia­ment’s Special Chambers but received no proper response.

Meanwhile, Pakatan Harapan lawmakers lauded the PAC investigations, claiming that this was confirmation that the tax refunds had been stolen and misused.

Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said the PAC investigations confirmed that there was a shortfall of RM19.4bil in the GST credit refund. He insisted that the money was “stolen” after it was redirected to the Consolidated Revenue Account although meant for the GST Refund Account.

“This is a clear admittance that the money for GST refund was stolen because it is in effect taking and withholding money from taxpayers by force,” he said.

Khoo said he agreed with Thomas that the GST refund issue was still open to criminal investigations.

Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen said that channelling the GST refunds into a different account was a criminal breach of trust that warrants criminal investigations.

“The PAC findings clearly proved that the underlying fact is that a law was broken and the Barisan government had dipped their fingers into the money regardless of the justifications,” he said.

On Aug 8 last year, Lim had raised the issue over the RM19.4bil missing GST refund credit and said the money had been stolen by Barisan.

This prompted a heated debate with several lawmakers calling for the matter to be investigated by the PAC.

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