Putrajaya studying proposal to tax tech giants like Google, Facebook

 |Mar 20, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: The finance ministry is conducting a detailed study on the proposed taxation on giant technology companies and social media such as Google and Facebook.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said the study was done out of necessity, as well as to seek the best taxation mechanism and model.

“It is also aimed at monitoring the comprehensive review of online business taxation being made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat here yesterday.

A suggestion was made that tax should be levied on giant technology and media companies such as Google and Facebook as both were said to control almost 70 per cent of digital advertising expenditure in Malaysia.

The proposal was mooted during a discussion between Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and media editors and publication permit holders at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre here recently.

Meanwhile, Johari dismissed the notion that the people did not feel the country’s economic growth, describing it as inaccurate, as benefits like rising salaries, employment opportunities and overseas spending proved otherwise.

He said based on Department of Statistics data, last year, salaries in the services sector increased by 5.4 per cent while that in the manufacturing sector rose 8.6 per cent.

“In terms of employment, if the economy does not grow, we will not be able to create more jobs. Over the past three years, the government has recorded an increase in 1.1 million jobs,” he said.

He said the people’s spending abroad rose to RM46 billion, while retail outlets increased from 66,000 to 73,000 units in 2017, attesting to the positive impact of economic growth on the people.

“We do not deny that some of people are left behind in the country’s development, but this is the role of the government in providing specific assistance to these people in need.”

On the national debt, Johari said the total amount as at the end of December 2017 was RM686.8 billion or 50.8 per cent, which was below the recommended 55 per cent limit, of gross domestic product.

In another development, he said 90,599 people had started contributing to the 1Malaysia Retirement Savings Scheme (SP1M) as of December 2017, with 17,298 of them housewives.

“Currently, housewives can choose to contribute voluntarily under SP1M with a minimum contribution of RM50 and a maximum of RM60,000 a year,” he said.

He said SP1M contributors could also enjoy the government’s contribution of 15 per cent in the scheme, subject to a maximum of RM250 per year.

SP1M allows individuals, who are self-employed or without a fixed monthly income, such as taxi drivers, small traders, farmers, housewives and those who are working independently, including Malaysians working abroad, to make deposits to the retirement fund managed by the Employees Provident Fund. – Bernama