Taxing time as businesses struggle to survive

PETALING JAYA, July 18 — Ng Bee Lee, 52, who has been operating a hair salon in Klang for the last 30 years, said her business had been posting losses since last April.

She said her revenue had dropped after the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented but had recovered slightly since then.

“But I’m still in the red. My income is barely enough to sustain my operations. I am planning to shut it down and start an online business,” she said.

“I have to pay more on essentials — shampoo, conditioner, electric tools and hair steamers. The prices of all these items went up when GST was introduced.”

Ng was among operators of small and medium enterprises who told Malay Mail their businesses had been affected since GST was introduced last April.

Steven Lim, 29, owner of a traditional Chinese medicine shop in Chi Liung, Klang, said his business had also suffered.

“I have had to dismiss two of my workers and now I run the shop full time. In the past, I had time to manage other businesses but now those are no longer viable,” he said.

“I have given up the restaurant I use to co-own to fully focus on the medicine shop. The restaurant kept posting losses as the suppliers increased their prices.”

Lim said it was difficult to make a decent earning as the poor exchange rate and GST were cutting into profits.

“Many other businesses are not doing well either because they are affected by costlier supplies following the implementation of GST. Sales are about the same, it is just profits are smaller,” he said.

Shoe store manager Ahmad Kamil, 31, said GST had coincided with a slowdown in business.

“Consumers have less disposable income, so they buy less and the sales commissions we receive from our headquarters have dropped as well,” he said.

Ahmad said he had heard the company would not open further outlets and was looking at ways to cut back on expenses.

“It is a sad situation. There are fewer and fewer sales. It is really quiet compared to what it used to be before GST,” he said.

Anitha, 41, co-owner of a party supplies store in Section 14, Petaling Jaya, said her business could barely break even since GST was introduced.

“They promised it would lower costs but all we have seen is a drastic drop in the number of customers. No one is looking for party supplies in the current situation … nothing to celebrate,” she said.

“We rely heavily on regular customers. Some have been coming for years but now they are turning their backs on us. They are not happy with the price increases and blame GST.”

Casey Tang, 41, proprietor of a stationery shop in Bangsar, claimed the tax had not only hurt business but increased operating costs as well.

“Our cost structure has changed. It is complicated and we have to pay for stock upfront,” she said.

“Everyone is trying to hang on to their money and no one is spending. If this keeps up, many small businesses are going to fold.” – MMO.