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Malaysia launches consumption tax despite public unease

A cashier (R) accepts money from a customer at a supermarket in Kuala Lumpur on April 1, 2015Malaysia on Wednesday implemented a six percent consumption tax aimed at plugging a leaky tax-collection system and addressing a widening fiscal deficit, but which has sparked opposition protests over the past year. The government and economists say the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will help address an inadequate revenue-collection system under which income tax is currently paid by only an estimated 11 percent of registered companies and 14.8 percent of employees. Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday said the GST — which does not apply to staple food items such as rice, sugar and cooking oil, as well as some medicines — would not overburden consumers. It hopes to trim its fiscal deficit to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2015, compared to 3.5 percent last year.

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