Ma­hathir shakes up Malaysia taxes

Viet Nam News - - ASIA BUSINESS -

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s an­nual eco­nomic growth slowed to 5.4 per cent in the first quar­ter of 2018, leav­ing the coun­try’s new gov­ern­ment with the task of turn­ing around an econ­omy that has de­cel­er­ated for two con­sec­u­tive quar­ters.

Re­leas­ing the lat­est gross do­mes­tic prod­uct data yes­ter­day, the cen­tral bank said do­mes­tic de­mand would help growth stay favourable, though the Jan­uary-March per­for­mance was be­low a me­dian fore­cast of 5.5 per cent given by a Reuters sur­vey of econ­o­mists.

The slow­down comes amid un­cer­tainty over eco­nomic poli­cies of the new ad­min­is­tra­tion of 92year-old Ma­hathir Mo­hamad, who led an op­po­si­tion al­liance to a sur­prise win over his scan­dal-tainted for­mer pro­tege Najib Razak and a Barisan Na­sional coali­tion that had led the coun­try for six decades.

Re­garded as the ar­chi­tect of mod­ern Malaysia, Ma­hathir re­tired in 2003 af­ter lead­ing the coun­try for 22 years, but he re­turned to up­set the coun­try’s tra­di­tional po­lit­i­cal or­der by al­ly­ing with old foe, op­po­si­tion leader An­war Ibrahim, hav­ing be­come an­gered by Najib’s al­leged cor­rup­tion.

For all the scan­dals, Najib over­saw an econ­omy that put in its best per­for­mance in three years in 2017, but growth has de­cel­er­ated from 5.9 per cent in the fourth quar­ter of 2017 and from 6.2 per cent in the third quar­ter, when it made its strong­est show­ing in three years.

Dur­ing his first week back in of­fice, Ma­hathir has an­nounced moves to ef­fec­tively scrap a goods and ser­vices tax (GST) - a sig­nif­i­cant source of gov­ern­ment rev­enue, rein­tro­duce a sales tax, and review var­i­ous projects signed off by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment. — REUTERS

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