Malaysia to introduce sales and service tax after effectively scrapping GST

Malaysia’s finance ministry said the shortfall in revenue will be supported by specific revenue and expenditure measures that will be announced soon, including the reintroduction of the sales and service tax. (Reuters)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Malaysia to introduce sales and service tax after effectively scrapping GST

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said it will introduce a sales and service tax (SST) to partly offset the shortfall in revenue from effectively scrapping a goods and service tax (GST) from June.
The Mahathir Mohamad-led government, which won last week’s general election, said on Wednesday it would lower GST to zero percent from June 1. Ousted leader Najib Razak had introduced the tax in 2015 amid lower oil prices.
In a statement on Thursday, the ministry of finance said the shortfall in revenue will be supported by specific revenue and expenditure measures that will be announced soon, including the reintroduction of the SST.
“Fiscal reform is being implemented. Expenditure reduction will begin with rationalization and efficiency measures and reducing leakages,” the statement said.
It did not say when the sales tax will be introduced.
Brian Tan, a Singapore-based economist with Nomura, said the timing of SST implementation was a concern.
“It is a question of how quickly you can bring (the SST) back. In the intervening period of the removal of GST and the return of SST, there is obviously going to be a gap in revenue. The question is how long and large will that gap be,” he said.
The finance ministry statement also added that rising oil prices will provide short-term fiscal space.
“No doubt (the higher oil price) is helpful but the problem is that it may not be enough. It is important that they bring in the SST soon,” Tan said.


China April industrial profit growth rebounds to six-month high

Updated 10 sec ago
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China April industrial profit growth rebounds to six-month high

BEIJING: Profits earned by Chinese industrial firms in April rose at their fastest pace in six months, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Sunday, as factories benefited from higher prices and strong demand.

Profits in April rose 21.9 percent year-on-year to 576 billion yuan ($90.14 billion), the quickest since October, bringing gains for the first four months of 2018 to 15 percent.

The data suggests China’s industrial sector is still seeing solid growth momentum despite curbs on pollution and rocky trade relations with the US.

Last month’s rebound was helped by lower comparison figures for April 2017, higher factory prices and stronger demand, He Ping, head of NBS’ industrial division, said in a statement.

It was a significant improvement over March’s 3.1 percent growth that was the slowest in over a year and which government officials had blamed on the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday.

The higher April data should help ease concerns of slowing momentum in China’s economy as the country implements tougher pollution controls on “smokestack” industries and cash-strapped regional governments cut back on big investment projects, curbing demand for building materials.

Profit growth for Chinese industrial firms has softened from last year’s strong pace as factory gate price gains weaken. In the first four months of 2017, profits rose 24.4 percent.

China’s producer price inflation picked up to 3.4 percent in April from March but was much lower than 6.4 percent in the year-ago period.

Weaker profit growth suggests companies may be reluctant to invest and hire new staff, while making it harder for debt-laden firms to service their debt, especially state-owned enterprises that account for the bulk of the country’s high leverage.

A Reuters analysis showed that debt growth for Chinese companies has slowed to the lowest rate in more than a decade, but companies have also seen profit margins squeezed to their lowest level in two years.

April economic data had shown signs of slowing momentum as investment growth touched a near 20-year low and retail sales growth weakened.

Despite stronger-than-expected first-quarter economic growth, economists polled by Reuters still expect a gradual slowdown to around 6.5 percent this year from 6.9 percent in 2017, as rising borrowing costs weigh on consumption and investment.

Beijing continues to call for tighter controls on risky investments and speculation in the property sector, but does not want to cut off funding to firms in the “real economy” such as manufacturing firms that are a key source of jobs.

There have also been signs that policymakers have moved to a slighter looser stance as they look to ensure growth doesn’t slow too much, while also keeping financial risks under control.

No industrial sectors recorded year-on-year losses over January to April, the data showed.

But earnings in the computer and telecommunications sector fell 5.3 percent over the four months, though that was a slight improvement from an 11 percent decline in the first quarter.

Liabilities of industrial firms rose 6.1 percent year-on-year as of end-April, according to the statistics bureau.

Profits at China’s state-owned firms rose 26.2 percent to 627 billion yuan for Jan-April, compared with a 23.1 percent rise in the first quarter.