PUTRAJAYA — Aug. 9, 2018: Former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah has denied an allegation that RM18 billion meant for Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds had gone missing.
His explanation is that all GST proceeds were placed in the consolidated fund before being channelled to the trust fund to repay GST claims, based on the request of Malaysian Customs.
This procedure is provided for in the Financial Procedures Act and the information available from the Accountant-General’s Department and fiscal division of the Finance Ministry.
“At the federal government cashflow management monthly meeting, Customs will present the need for refunds and outstanding amounts due.
“Based on the (Customs’) needs and the government revenue position, the meeting will decide on the allocation to be made to the trust fund,” Irwan stated here when approached by reporters.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, when tabling the Goods and Services Tax (Repeal) Bill in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, claimed that about RM18 billion was missing from the RM19.4 billion meant to be GST refunds from April 2015 to May 31 this year.
He said Customs records showed that RM9.2 billion or 47 per cent was for this year’s refunds; RM6.8 billion for 2017; RM2.8 billion for 2016 and RM600 million for 2015.
Irwan, citing an example of the refunds for last year, said Customs paid claims totalling RM23 billion or 34 per cent from the GST proceeds.
He said it was understood that there were RM15 billion outstanding claims for last year that needed verification, investigation and auditing to ensure there was no fraud or false claims.
“Every sen is accounted for. It is the people’s money, which is why it is much more important to be credited to the consolidated fund. When it’s needed, it will be taken out,” he said.
Irwan also described the refund process as being clear, with Customs making the refunds in 14 days, although it would take longer in cases of doubt where an investigation and auditing are necessary.
Again in Parliament today, Lim defended his statement and did not yield when several Barisan Nasional MPs demanded that he withdrew the word “robbed” considering that no investigation had been conducted as yet.
The MPs included Tan Sri Noh Omar (Tanjong Karang); Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (Larut), Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau) and Datuk Seri Dr. Wee Ka Siong (Ayer Hitam).
Lim added that an internal investigation would be conducted, to be led by current Treasury Secretary-General Datuk Seri Ismail Bakar. — Bernama