Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced at the World Customs Day celebration today that the government has collected RM44 billion from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017. Pix by Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor

PUTRAJAYA: The government has collected RM44 billion from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 2017, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced Wednesday.

Najib said the GST collections last year was higher compared to RM41 billion in 2016.

"Although I have said while tabling the 2018 budget that the GST collections for this year is targeted at RM43.8 billion, I have been told by the Customs Department that the collections may even reach RM45 billion.

"With a strong revenue base, we can redistribute income.

"And, I want to assure the people that the government has no plan to raise the GST rate," he said at the World Customs Day celebration here.

Also present were Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, and Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, said, Malaysia's strong revenue base, especially from GST, has allowed the nation to weather the sluggish global economy, keep recession at bay, continue with development programmes for the people, and make special payments to 1.6 million civil servants.

The government's courageous move to implement GST, he added, was one of the reasons why Malaysia's credit rating remains strong, he added.

The GST kicked off on April 1, 2015 at a rate of 6 per cent, replacing the sales and services tax regime in Malaysia, and was introduced with 553 types of zero-rated goods and services, and another 25 being GST-exempt.

In the Economic Report 2017/2018 released in October last year, the sales tax and service tax contributed RM10.9 billion and over RM6.27 billion in 2014 or a combined 7.8 per cent of the government's total revenue then of RM220.6 billion. In the first three months of 2015, the sales tax and service tax contributed RM5.2 billion and RM3 billion, respectively.

GST collections in 2015 was reported to be at RM27 billion or 12.3 per cent of the government’s overall revenue of RM219.1 billion, while GST collection in 2016 was at RM41.2 billion or 19.4 per cent of the RM212.4 billion government revenue.

The prime minister also lauded the Customs Department's success in plugging leakages via smuggling activities.

"In this respect, the department has managed to save more than RM1 billion of the government's revenue last year," he said.

Najib said he believed the Customs Department can execute its responsibilities well, despite being pressured and receiving threats.

"Although they receive threats or have their cars torched, I believe the department will not back down (from carrying out their duties)."

He also thanked those in the Customs department for their loyalty towards the government and their contributions towards ensuring Malaysia's economy stays vibrant.

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