BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
Published: 7 October 2014
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wants the IRB to ensure that billionaires pay taxes too. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 7, 2014.
Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has urged the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) to ensure that the country's billionaires do not escape from paying taxes.
He said that there were several Malaysian billionaires who have increased their earnings over the past year, including Tan Sri Robert Kuok, T. Ananda Krishnan, Tan Sri Teh Hong Piow, Tan Sri Quek Leng Chan, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir.
"I am not questioning their increase in wealth, but whether IRB is brave enough to go after these people.
"Because based on reports that I have received previously, there is strong pressure from the country's super-rich not to pay or to delay payment of taxes," he said when debating the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) of Malaysia Bill today.
He also said that some of the super-rich were given "easy payment" schemes, and that this was not an issue if such schemes could also be granted to the working class.
"We hope that if there are instalment schemes being allowed to the rich, the rakyat is also given the same leeway. There must be humanity when dealing with ordinary tax-paying citizens," he added.
Anwar added that the IRB must also arm itself with technical expertise to track the wealthy who take their profits out of the country in order to evade taxes.
He added that while he supported the amendment to give more autonomy to the IRB, the agency should use this autonomy to study the tax-paying practices of the wealthy and rein in evaders.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, meanwhile, questioned a provision in the bill that gave the IRB power to establish companies, despite the fact that the proposed creation of an investment panel had been removed.
The investment panel provision would have allowed the finance minister, who is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, to appoint six out of the seven board members of the panel.
Critics charged that the bill, if passed, would allow the panel to make investments using taxpayers’ money to acquire stocks, bonds, debts and property assets that are deemed fit by the finance minister.
But this provision was removed today, causing Lim to question the remaining provision on the power to establish companies to carry out or engage in any project, scheme or enterprise.
"If the investment panel provision has been removed, this provision is useless, unless there is a plan to do something through the back door," Lim said. – October 7, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider