Reduce wastage from ministers spending first, before blanket tax hike on electricity tariff

KUALA LUMPUR: Increasing higher tax of any form should be the government's last option after weighing in and exhausting all other avenues, says Alliance for a Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Lee who is a long time consumer advocate said although the eight per cent increase in SST for electricity supply was meant to help strengthen the country's fiscal foundation, it would have implications affecting the cost of living of Malaysians.

"Over the years and even till now, there has been a lot of leakages and wasteful spending, not to mention corruption, involving millions of ringgit. Wasn't this wasteful? While it may appear to be a sound rationale, one important question is, has the government considered other measures to cut down wasteful expenses or attempted to reduce wastages and leakages instead, as a way to strengthen its fiscal position?" he asked.

Lee suggested that for starters, the government should first cut down on expenses like the ministers' non-essential overseas travel and elaborate government functions, before hitting the Rakyat with a blanket tax increase.

"In my view, it is not feasible for most households to reduce their electricity consumption, especially at a time when the weather is hot, and is getting hotter. Instead of imposing higher tax, the government perhaps should consider incentivising energy efficiency like providing relief for households that install solar panels.

"In some countries, it has been reported that, with solar panels, it is possible to save 60 per cent of monthly electricity bills. Increasing taxes, in any form, should always be the last resort. For every increase in taxes, it is imperative that the government shows proof of successful attempts to reduce wastage and leakage," Lee added.

It was reported that starting from today, the Sales and Services Tax will be raised from six per cent to eight per cent for households that are paying RM231.80 for their electricity bill.

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