Thursday 30 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 8): Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz knows all too well that Malaysia needs tough fiscal measures to ensure that the country can sustainably fund development and take care of its soon-greying population.

Due to additional operating and development expenses to be incurred following the recent floods, the need for a supplementary budget already looks likely just two months after tabling Budget 2022 on Oct 29, 2021.

Tengku Zafrul told The Edge there is leeway for expenses to be adjusted as it is still early in the year but admitted that fiscal reforms need to happen sooner rather than later.

He is clearly for Malaysia reimposing a broad-based consumption tax as soon as the economy recovers. Singapore just mentioned the possibility of raising the goods and services tax (GST) from 7% to 9% as early as this year. Indonesia is also raising value-added tax (VAT) come April 1.

Apart from measures to shore up government revenue, Tengku Zafrul also spoke on the need to rationalise expenditure — including implementing targeted subsidies rather than go on with having blanket subsidies for everything from petrol and electricity to public transportation.

Can he push through unpopular changes in the current political climate?

To know what he has to say about fiscal reforms and talk of him running in the 15th general election (GE15), read our cover story this week by picking up a copy at news stands.

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