No increase in GST rate for now, says Najib

PUTRAJAYA - The Government will not increase the Goods and Services (GST) rate because it is looking after the people's welfare during these trying economic times.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said an increase in GST was not "on board" as the Government searched for measures to sustain the economy.

He said this was not being considered as the people would not be able to absorb any increase in GST.

"At this stage, we are not envisaging any increase in GST. An increase in GST is not on board. It is not on the table," he told a media conference yesterday.

The Prime Minister said the people's welfare and their ability to absorb any more increases must be taken into account when deciding on the need for a hike in GST rate.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, was asked if the Government would consider increasing the GST rate to sustain revenue should oil prices drop further.

Last week, he had explained that with the money collected from GST, people could continue to enjoy financial aid, indirect or hidden subsidies such as low fees for medical services at government hospitals, and free basic education for children.

GST was implemented in April last year amid reservations and even protests.

Nine months after it took effect, the Government has projected a net collection of RM27.12 billion (S$8.9 billion) from GST for 2015 while for this year, it is expected to reach RM39 billion.