Earlier today, The Star published an article saying that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be imposed on more than 60 food items that had previously been zero-rated, including fresh produce and processed products. Some of the items that would be charged with GST included certain types of seafood, vegetables, fruits, tea, coffee, spices, and noodles. For instance, items like eel and swordfish, and imported fruits such as avocados, figs, grapes, nectarines, cherries, and berries were on the list to be slapped with a higher price due to GST.
The article also said that the Customs Department director-general Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy confirmed the report and he was quoted as saying, “It’s only a few items not consumed by the masses.”
However, more ‘common’ vegetables like potatoes, long beans, peas, spinach, and sweet corn were noted as also being taken off the GST zero-rated list, thus incurring the tax. Other items include bihun, kuey teow, laksa mee, and coconut oil.
But, guess what? At around noon today, The Royal Malaysian Customs Department announced on their Facebook page that the imposition will be cancelled. The decision was reportedly made after consulting with the Finance Ministry, though plenty of netizens have offered a rather different take on matters.
Although the Malaysian media reported the story about levying GST on fresh food items only today, the truth is that the government made the announcement regarding this matter on 6th June 2017. Many have commented on the irony in the government both announcing and canceling their decision in less than a month. Typically, for a government announce and implement such a far-reaching policy change (particularly with regard to taxes), they would have actually done thorough research and consulted all the right parties. But, if we’re going by the government’s own admission, that was clearly not the case here.
Ever since the announcement on the cancellation was made on the Facebook page, netizens immediately posted their opinions and ridiculed the government by saying that this is a typical tactic and the government is simply ‘testing the market.’
Comment 1: Hahaha it’s smart how they’re (the government) cracking jokes when it’s close to Hari Raya.
Comment 2: They’re testing the market. Hahaha.
Comment 3: Government yo-yo.
Regardless of how the government operates, at least for now, we can heave a sigh of relief as we won’t have to spend more for fresh food items after all. To view the complete list of zero-rated goods and services, visit here.