Don't rush GEG Bill, still too many questions, say sundry merchants

KUALA LUMPUR: There should be no hurry to table the so-called Generational Endgame (GEG) Bill in Parliament because issues remain over its implementation, says a business group.

The Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Associations of Malaysia (FSGMAM) lamented the government’s decision to expedite the tabling of the revised Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 in the Dewan Rakyat next Tuesday (Oct 10).

"This is uncalled for as no one is aware how the proposed GEG will be implemented," its president Hong Chee Meng said in a statement on Friday (Oct 6).

ALSO READ: GEG Bill up for second reading on Oct 10, says Dr Zaliha

"Our main concern is how the GEG will be implemented. This was never discussed with any retail players and we are the frontliners to implement the proposal.

"We do not know if retailers would be asked to check the MyKad of each adult born after 2007 in future and we also do not know if there will be a digital application like the MySejahtera app that each smoker born before 2007 must use each time they buy cigarettes or vape products," he said.

"Members are concerned that the implementation of GEG will lead to their being fined heavily since (it was) also reported that the revised Bill includes higher fines for suppliers.

"There are no details as to how this will be implemented and there are high fines.

ALSO READ: Health groups: Table GEG Bill

"This is going to cause a mess in the retail sector and each retailer will be at risk.

"What happens if some buyers used fake identification or even pay someone else to buy the products?

"We aren’t sure how retailers will be penalised in such (situations).

"There was no briefing by the Health Ministry or any discussion conducted with the retail sector on these matters.

"We are in the dark over such important matters. We suggest that the GEG provisions be put on hold first until the ministry comes up with a plan.

"The government should focus on simplifying the procedure for conducting business and not introduce more complex policies.

ALSO READ: The data is in, support the Bill, says Health Minister

"This GEG proposal... creates (complications) for businesses.

"With all the economic uncertainty, this is a time when we need to be supported by the government (in terms of) ease of doing business and not (laden with) burdensome procedures," said Hong.

The Bill proposes that those born in 2007 and subsequent years will be prohibited from smoking, buying or possessing any type of smoking product, including electronic cigarettes or vape products, even after reaching the age of 18.

When tabling the revised Budget 2023 on Feb 24, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said nicotine vape liquids are still illegally sold with an estimated RM2bil or more in sales.

Therefore, the government proposed a tax on nicotine-based products used in electronic cigarettes, with half the excise duties channelled to the Health Ministry in support of the GEG Bill.

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