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In crisis, a chance to right past wrongs


The silver lining to Petronas’ crappy results? They’ve fanned the burning embers of our debt-ridden economy. Reminded our “leaders” that the cash cow’s milk is drying up.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start earning more than it’s spending. Exercise some fiscal responsibility, as it were.
Despite producing more oil, Petronas still earned less than it did a year earlier because of depressed prices.
Against the backdrop of a sputtering global economic recovery, the end of Easy Money policies (read: Fed tapering) and North America’s shale revolution, it’s so concerned over its outlook that it might even scrap its US$19 bil (RM62.5 bil) petrochemicals project in Johor.
This is significant.
Not only is this the country’s largest infrastructure project investment and a cornerstone of Najib’s $444 bil Economic Transformation Programme, a Pengerang deferment also sends dire signals: that Petronas might soon no longer be able to help the government pay its bloated wage bill and fund its grandiose, leaky plans.
Is it therefore any surprise then, that the words GST, “Subsidy rationalisation” and “Upcoming budget” have begun peppering the newspapers?
Among many of Malaysia’s dubious honours (crime, corruption, education, road safety, deaths in custody, human rights, civil liberties, power-distance ratio, Gini coefficient, blah-blah-blah), the absence of a broad-based tax must surely rank in the upper echelons of Unwanted Lists to Rank Highly On.
Malaysia is among the few nations in the world to have not implemented a Goods and Services Tax (146 countries around the world have already done so) despite their obvious benefits.
The biggest boon? Everyone pays taxes. Not just the folk who earn a good salary, own a successful business or have jobs outside of the civil service.


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