Rumours of the 15th General Election (GE) that would be held this year have been circulating since Barisan Nasional’s landslide victory in the Johor earlier this year.
However, Prime Minister Dato Seri Ismail Sabri is not in a hurry to pull the trigger soon despite facing pressure from certain UMNO leaders to hold the GE earlier.
Ismail explained that the government is still battling the rising inflation. Thus, it is not the right time to call for an early election.
“The increase in food prices and cost of living are the main reasons for the postponement of the next GE,” Sabri said.
In an interview with Nikkei Asia, Ismail said he is waiting for the right time to hold the GE15, but he did not give an exact date as to when he will dissolve the government.
However, he assured that GE will be held before the deadline set in the Federal Constitution, which is September 2023.
According to the data from the Malaysian Department of Statistics, the Consumer Price Index has increased to as much as 2.2% in March this year, mainly due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, Ismail also indicated that the government has the intention to bring back the goods and services tax (GST) to expand the government’s revenue and ease the strain on public subsidies.
He added that he is aware of the negative public perceptions of the GST but he was left with no other option but to increase the government’s revenue. He said that RM20 billion was lost in annual revenue when the GST was abolished and replaced with the SST.
“No country in the world has reverted back from GST to SST, except for Malaysia,” said Ismail.
Nonetheless, Ismail said the government will come up with ways to educate the public to accept the reinstitution of GST and transparent tax collection.
He added that the government is currently working on a targeted subsidy rationalisation program for low- to middle-income households and will submit the plan to the Cabinet in due time.
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