The Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) plans to impose an additional 20 sen for every online purchase worth over RM200
KKMM deputy minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said the collection of the surcharge will be used to raise funds for the B40 group and improve communications infrastructure in rural areas, reported Bernama.
"We are discussing the plan to be tabled to the government so as to find alternative resources which will not burden the people, and we also want to give the best services to them," Zahidi told reporters in a press conference yesterday, 8 September.
He likened the surcharge to a service charge, adding that purchases worth over RM1,000 will be charged 40 sen in total under the new implementation, while no charges will be imposed on purchases below RM200.
Zahidi said the levy will be collected on e-commerce platforms, such as Lazada and Shopee.
When Zahidi first announced KKMM's intention to introduce the surcharge last month, he said the move will also help curb online fraud
According to him, the implementation can protect consumers from any intrusion of personal data by irresponsible parties, reported Bernama on 8 August.
Zahidi said the ministry was working with private companies to curb the problem. But at that time, he did not say the 20 sen levy will be used to help the B40 group.
The deputy minister also did not elaborate on how the move will help curb online fraud and keep users' data and personal information safe.
Meanwhile, political leaders from both sides of the divide have voiced their disapproval over the surcharge
According to Malaysiakini, UMNO secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said Zahidi has yet to bring the matter to the Cabinet for a discussion, before adding that he will oppose the move when it is brought up.
UMNO Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki also criticised the move, saying the tax should not be introduced at a time when the rakyat is suffering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The government should focus on promoting online transactions by giving incentives and not imposing charges. The UMNO Youth objects!" he said.
On the other side, Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail grabbed the chance to take a jab at the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration.
"When Gobind Singh Deo was the communications and multimedia minister, PH government slashed Internet fees in half while doubling its speed," Saifuddin tweeted.
"PN, meanwhile, wants to impose a new tax on the people while the country is facing a pandemic. Congratulations."