KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng dismissed calls for him to apologise over his statement that RM19.4bil in GST credit refunds were "stolen", saying that the issue was not brought up in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report.
"I think the Speaker has already said you must see what was the context.
"I feel the context was used last year, and this matter was not brought up in the PAC report, so it is not relevant, " he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
Earlier, Opposition lawmakers urged Lim to retract the word "stolen", and asked Speaker Datuk Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff to expunge it from the Hansard completely.
Mohamad Ariff ruled that there was no grounds to refer Lim to the Parliament's Rights and Privileges Committee, as requested in a motion filed by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Lim said it was a political ploy by the Opposition to keep targeting him.
"If we look closely at the report, the fund was used for other purposes. The GST fund was not returned to taxpayers, but was used for other purposes. That is wrong," said Lim.
"If you look at any law, not only the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will take action, the police will take action, and the government will also take action," he added.
At the Parliament lobby, the Opposition bloc accused the Dewan Rakyat Speaker of practising double standards on the issue.
Ismail Sabri questioned why the Speaker did not allow the motion to cite Lim to the Rights and Privileges Committee.
"It is as if the Speaker is defending Bagan's statement that the GST fund was stolen by the previous government when the PAC report clearly stated that the money is not missing," said Ismail.
Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) said Lim had repeatedly contradicted himself on the issue and was still defended by the Speaker.
The PAC report on the matter, released on Monday (July 15), said no money went missing.
Instead, the funds were used for operational and development expenditures.
The PAC report also found that the previous administration had delayed the transfer of funds from the Consolidated Fund account into the GST refund account to manage the country's cash flow position to ensure the nation was not in deficit management.
The controversy started last August when Lim said the RM19.4bil GST refunds was "stolen" by the former Barisan administration.