RM18b GST refunds not lost, says ex-Treasury sec-gen

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PUTRAJAYA ― Former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah denied an allegation that about RM18 billion meant for Goods and Services Tax (GST) refunds had gone missing.

He explained 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 the Customs Department.

The procedure was provided for in the Financial Procedure Act 1957 and the information was available from the Accountant-General’s Department and Fiscal Division of the Finance Ministry.

“At the federal government cash flow management monthly meeting, the Customs (Department) will present the need for refunds and outstanding amounts due.

“Based on the (Customs’) need and the government revenue position, the meeting will decide on the allocation to be made to the trust fund,” he told reporters yesterday.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, when tabling the Goods and Services Tax (Repeal) Bill 2018 for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, said 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 the Customs Department records showed that of the RM19.4 billion, RM9.2 billion or 47 per cent was for this year; RM6.8 billion (35 per cent) for 2017; RM2.8 billion (15 per cent) for 2016 and RM600 million (three per cent) for 2015.

Mohd Irwan, citing an example of GST refunds for last year, said the Customs Department 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 (from the consolidated fund),” he said.

Mohd Irwan said the refund process was clear, the Customs Department would make the refund in 14 days. However, in cases of doubt and where investigation and auditing are necessary if there are any false claims, it will take longer.

“In conclusion, there are no missing funds,” he said, adding that he was prepared to extend cooperation if the government needed information on the matter.

Asked whether he would lodge a police report over Lim’s statement linking him to the allegation of missing funds, Mohd Irwan said he had no plans to do that as of now. ― Bernama