‘Tourists may be afraid to buy’

Hamzah: The rich with money can buy despite the proposed luxury goods tax. — Bernama

THE proposed luxury goods taxes in Budget 2023 may deter tourists from shopping in Malaysia, says Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (PN-Larut).

“Isn’t Malaysia known as a shopping paradise for tourists?

“If foreign tourists are here and they see expensive prices, they will be afraid to buy (the luxury items),” the Opposition leader said when debating Budget 2023.

He said it was also concerning that there was no consumption-based tax such as the Value Added Tax (VAT) or Goods and Services Tax (GST) that was implemented by neighbouring countries, where tourists could make claims upon exiting these countries.

“They (tourists) will do a comparison among the countries, which means that Malaysia’s opportunity to become a shopping paradise will fail.

“The rich with money can buy despite the proposed luxury goods tax,” he said.

In his Budget 2023 speech last Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said there are plans to introduce a luxury goods tax on items such as luxury watches and fashion items this year.

He also said the government has no plans to reimplement the abolished GST.

Hamzah also said there was no mention in Budget 2023 of raising income taxes on those earning more than RM1 million per year.

“It only mentioned ‘up to RM1mil’. What about those making more than RM1mil?” he questioned.

He said the government could introduce a windfall tax mechanism to ensure those with extraordinary wealth assist the poor.

“This is one way to ensure that those who received windfall profits can help the poor,” he added.

In Budget 2023, it was announced that the income tax would be raised by 0.5 to two percentage points for those making between RM100,000 and RM1mil annually.

This method of taxation, according to Hamzah, is “taking from the rich to help the poor”.

However, he commended the government for its plans to reduce income tax rates by two percentage points for those earning RM100,000 and below annually.

On another matter, Hamzah supported calls by his fellow Perikatan Nasional MPs for equal constituency development funds for all MPs.

He added that Bersih 2.0 had written to him and told him that equal constituency development allocations should be given to all MPs, regardless of their political affiliation.

Backbencher MPs receive constituency development funds of RM1mil and RM300,000 for maintaining the expenses of their service centres.

However, Opposition MPs have not received funds from the government so far, and this has been criticised by Perikatan Nasional.

Datuk Rosol Wahid (PN-Hulu Terengganu) then stood up and said Anwar was given ministerial amenities by the then government when he was the Opposition leader.

Hamzah replied that when he was the Home Minister, Anwar had requested and received a police motorcycle outrider escort.

As part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the former administration led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Pakatan Harapan in October 2021, the title of Opposition leader was elevated to ministerial status.

However, Anwar, who was the Opposition leader at that time, declined the allowances, which come with a monthly salary of RM14,907, RM12,320 in entertainment allowances, a monthly housing allowance of RM4,000, and a special emolument of RM1,500.

Other benefits included RM3,000 every three years for climate clothing and RM1,500 every three years for formal attire and “black tie” events.

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