The government’s move to amend Income Tax Act 1967 that will see religious institutions in the country being taxed for their incomes derived from businesses or rental is unwise, said state PKR chairman Baru Bian
The Ba Kelalan assemblyman said the question that was on everyone’s mind was why target religious bodies now when all these years they had been exempted from tax.
“Why has this move been taken without any consultation with the religious bodies nor any explanations offered to them? This surreptitious amendment has taken all of them by surprise, and not surprisingly has led to widespread confusion and concern among these religious bodies and their members,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
Baru said it was common knowledge among Malaysians and even the international community that the Malaysian government was running out of funds.
“The 1MDB scandal has damaged our country’s finances, with the ringgit falling to an all-time low against the Singapore dollar last month. The public perception is that the country’s coffers are almost empty and the BN government is desperately looking for new ways to make the public pay for their incompetence and mismanagement.
“Sneaking in this amendment to take money from religious bodies is a new low, even for this BN government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.”
He stated that the attempted justification by Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani of alleged ‘abuse’ of the exemption by certain religious bodies that collect rental income did not hold water.
“It is merely a vague generalisation and does not explain why the government did not bother to consult with these alleged ‘profiteering’ bodies before taking this draconian step.”
Baru said he fully understood the concerns of the leaders of religious institutions on the implementation of this tax amendment and its effect on their activities.
“Their criticism of this move is justified as the government is treating them with scant respect in not bothering to seek their views beforehand, or to even dialogue with those bodies alleged to have profited from investments.”
Baru said: “There are no two ways about it. The government must reverse this amendment and return to status quo. Otherwise, I believe that the members of these religious bodies will register their displeasure at the ballot box in the next elections.”
Source : @ The Borneo Post Online