Remove all medicines from GST list, say consumer associations

Consumer associations across the country were united in wanting all medicines exempted from GST, not just the 4,215 that the Customs Department has so far listed.


“It should all be exempted,” said Ahmad Hariza Hashim, vice-president of the Malaysian Consumer and Family Economics Association.

“Medicine is a necessity for all, no matter what your income level.”

Supplements too should be considered for tax exemption as it is a necessity for families with children, Hariza said, a Malay Mail Online report said.

“People in lower-income groups with children would be deprived of supplements for growth. Supplements should ideally be exempted as well.”

President of the Consumers Association of Klang, Devdass Anjan said having good health was a basic necessity, and even vitamins and supplements should not be under GST.

“What about health-related products like adult diapers and dialysis fluids? Shouldn’t these be included, too?”

Devdass said consumers should also be provided with clearer information on GST and the medicines involved.

“The layman is not going to know drug brands, so how will they know if something is GST exempt or not?” he asked.

“Unless there is stringent enforcement, the average consumer may be taken for a ride.”

Malaysian Consumers Association secretary-general Amarjit Singh Gill said an exemption on all medicines was not practical but hoped the expanded zero-rated list would include previously unlisted essential medicines.

“In the previous list, it only included certain antibiotics. Hopefully the new list would include more essential medicines,” he said.

Customs GST division senior assistant director ll Norazura Hashim announced yesterday that an additional 1,315 medicines had been included in the zero-rated supplies list, expanding it from a list of 2,900.

However, Amarjit said more medicines were taxable under GST than those that were not.

“In a research discussion, the zero-rated list only filled three pages, while those affected by GST filled 11 pages,” he said.

“It is good the government is listening to the public’s suggestions to expand the list. But not much can be said until we see the list when it is released.”