KUALA LUMPUR - The implementation of a goods and services tax (GST) is a must and not an option.
Secretary-General of Treasury Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said at the half-year Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) update that the Government was trying its best to include it in Budget 2014 if everyone was agreeable to it.
Dr Mohd Irwan added that it would only be in place in 2015 if the Government announced it in the coming budget as it would take 14 months for the GST to be implemented.
According to him, the Government would take an overall view of the existing tax system, including looking into personal and corporate taxes, in implementing the GST.
"The ultimate aim of the GST is to take care of the country and the people, so anything we introduce will not burden the people.
"There will be some form of rebate for various individuals and small and medium enterprises," he said, adding that basic necessities such as rice and infant formula milk would be classified as zero-rated items.
To tackle the country's fiscal deficit, the spending on big public projects was also being reviewed.
Dr Mohd Irwan said it was a challenging period as Malaysia's current account shrank to RM2.6bil in the second quarter but assured that the Mass Rapid Transit project "would go on".
He added that the revision of the fiscal policy would leave some impact on the economy but the growth path was intact.
On the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala, who was also there, said: "I am of the view that we should be part of the TPPA but we have to make sure it is on our terms that are acceptable to other countries that are part of it."
He told the audience that the TPPA was an ongoing negotiation and that nothing had been signed yet.
He also said the negotiating team had a clear set of mandates and would negotiate based on the nation's and people's interests.
Idris explained that the TPPA could be a platform to increase the country's share of global trade and that Malaysia should be active in shaping and influencing the agreement as an early entrant.