HERE will be no changes to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the near term as the government aims to embed the tax system into entire consumer spending system, said Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani. He said with the implementation of GST, the country is on track to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.1 per cent this year. “GST and the subsidy rationalisation policies were necessary to keep the country’s fiscal deficit on target, especially given the challenging economic climate. It will also ensure the continued reduction of our deficit,” he said during the closing address at the Khazanah Megatrend Forum 2016. Johari said notwithstanding the policies to enhance the sustainability of the country’s fiscal position, which is one of the tenets of good stewardship, the government recognises that the rakyat is facing increasing costs of living. “Addressing the welfare of the rakyat in the short term is necessary to ensure we have a stable foundation before we go after long term goals. Efforts to minimise the cost of living hikes were specifically underlined in the seven National Key Result Areas (NKRA) under the Government Transformation Programme. For example, the government had introduced the 1Malaysia People’s Aid or under the NKRA to help overcome the rising cost of living and cushioning the impact of the GST. Johari said the government has channeled its efforts into geographic inclusion with the push for regional economic corridors as well as construction projects that would enhance the economy and narrow disparities by connecting Malaysians. The introduction of the minimum wage also helped to uplift the most vulnerable segments of the society with benefits that would feedback into the overall economy, he added.

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