Why wait till March 20 when Finance Minister can exempt utilities from SST hike now, says Dr Wee

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no need to wait until March 20 to exempt water and electricity charges from the increase in sales and service tax (SST), says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam).

The MCA president said the issue could be easily resolved if Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, in his capacity as Finance Minister, steps in to address the issue immediately.

"There is no need to wait till March 20 (when the matter will be discussed by the National Action Council on Cost of Living, or Naccol) because the government will incur the wrath of the people until then.

"I urgently call for the matter to be expedited," he said when debating the motion of thanks on the Royal Address in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Feb 28).

ALSO READ: Ministry study may spare electricity, water bills from SST hike

Dr Wee reminded Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali that the planned SST increase had already been gazetted for implementation on Friday (March 1), which is only two days away.

On Tuesday (Feb 27), Armizan told the Dewan Rakyat that his ministry had completed a special study on the possible effects of the SST hike from 6% to 8%.

He said the results of the study would be presented to Naccol on March 20.

Dr Wee said the issue could be dealt with promptly through an exemption notice.

"It is not difficult to do as the power lies in the hands of the Finance Minister to issue a gazette notice, similar to what was done when exempting the traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) sector from SST," he said.

On Feb 19, the Finance Ministry announced that T&CM would be exempted from SST following Anwar's approval.

Dr Wee said the exemption should be extended to water and electricity as they are basic needs.

ALSO READ: Cabinet willing to discuss exempting utilities from SST increase, says DPM Fadillah

"If parking, food and telecommunications were exempted from the hike, why can't we do it for water and electricity?

"This is the plea of the rakyat and they will laud the government for making the right decision which benefits the people's wellbeing," he added.

Earlier Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the Cabinet was prepared to discuss the possibility of exempting water and electricity from SST.

Although the issue was not listed on the agenda for the coming Cabinet meeting, Fadillah said the Finance Ministry was looking at the overall situation.

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