Malaysians are now accustomed to flip-flop regulations or policy changes that borders on almost comedic in nature with big scale events like a change of government. While the latter is new to us, the way the transition of such an historic event took place was done in a chilled-out way, as though we have done this many times before.
So when the new government announced the removal of GST and the need to revert back to Sales and Service Tax (which is a first for any country), citizens were unperturbed. Many saw it as a welcome change even thought if it meant the country will be short in collecting tax monies that could cost serious impact on federal finances. Now with just a week away from implementation, there is a slight grumble on the grounds – as firstly, the tax holiday is coming to an end, and secondly the uncertainty what SST will cause in the sectors it is applied.
One such industry is telecommunication. Many don’t realise this, but operators have been absorbing the 6% GST since its inception thanks to the kerfuffle between the public and the ministry. But now, Customs Malaysia has clearly listed all services that will be subjected to the tax regime. All prepaid and postpaid customers can expect the 6% come next month, including any other services they subscribe to. Unifi and internet services will not be spared, which includes entertainment subscriptions like Netflix or iFlix.
Adding all this up could be substantial for a household who have all these services subscribed. Time to cut back? Quite impossible; we are addicted to the services as many Malaysians have become. We can’t live without our phones, and internet is a must – to quote the Communication Minister: “High speed broadband should be every humans right to have” – and Netflix… thankfully that is still a luxury at the moment.
The Bright Side
We will have to brace for the inevitable. The best thing to do now is to slow down, and use less of the services. Monitor the usage, and just subscribe to packages that fit into our habits. The good thing is the Communication Ministry has instructed internet providers to bring prices down, with Maxis having made the first move among the ISPs. Expect the rest of the market to follow suit soon as telcos are constantly battling for market share and tend to cut prices themselves anyway. These actions should mitigate the 6% hike or even save money in the long-run.
In the meantime, let us be chill Malaysians and let this new change settle in, the noise to subside and patiently wait for better days as promised. Look at the bright side of not paying tax for staples; teh tarik and roti canai is no longer taxed!