THE time has come for lawmakers to have their emoluments taxed so they can contribute to the nation’s coffers in this tough economic times.
Tricor Malaysia Sdn Bhd chairman Veerinderjeet Singh said the government should review the Income Tax Act 1967 and scrutinise the emoluments enjoyed by lawmakers.
“I believe they should their bit, especially during an economic downturn. Let us level the playing field for all Malaysians,” he told FocusM.
To date, Dewan Rakyat members (MP) earn about RM16,000 in emoluments while Dewan Negara members (Senators) earn about RM11,000.
Veerinderjeet said it was unfair that lawmakers were contributing lower in terms of tax revenue while the public – with lower salaries – are trying their best to pay their dues.
“I think a review on this matter is appropriate,” he said.
Commenting on the matter, Umno lawmaker Datuk Jalaluddin Alias welcomed the move but said it would depend on the government to do it.
“It all depends on the Federal Constitution. Anything can be done if the majority agrees to it. In my view, I think it will be good for the nation,” said the Jelebu MP.
However, Jalaluddin refused to divulge on whether his colleagues on the government bloc would agree to his sentiments.
PKR: We are struggling financially
PKR MP Wong Chen, on the other hand, said hiking up tax rates on lawmakers would put too much burden on them, especially those from the opposition bench.
While acknowledging that MPs pay lower taxes, at a rate of 16%, most opposition lawmakers use their income to service their constituents as they do not receive adequate allocation from the government.
“Opposition MPs have no resources to run their office and we already pay income tax on our salaries. We are using our salaries to upkeep our office and I bring home almost nothing for my family every month.
“Taxing our emoluments will cripple our resources. This will cause negative consequences and drive MPs to seek money from rich influential donors or worse, ‘leapfrog’ to the ruling government’s side,” he said.
The Subang lawmaker added that taxing MPs’ emoluments would have little fiscal impact, saying it would probably come up to only RM1 mil.
“But you will see the rise of abuse of power and corruption as MPs may seek to run their offices by dubious means. Graft and peddling of influence will evolve into big corruption in time.
“In my view, the proposal is shortsighted and will effectively be a populist public relations stunt. What we need is adequate resources for MPs so we can remain clean and then have an independent MACC plus strict auditing on our expenditure,” said Wong Chen.
Veerinderjeet acknowledged the problems faced by opposition MPs and urged the government to ensure all lawmakers, irrespective of their political leanings, to be given allocations accordingly.
“All lawmakers must be treated equally so that their constituents get the necessary help,” he said.
By : G Vinod – FOCUS MALAYSIA