KUALA LUMPUR: The decision on whether the automotive sales and service tax (SST) exemption scheme should be extended is up to the Finance Ministry, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said although he viewed the exemption as a benefit for the automotive industry, he understood that the Finance Ministry would have its own financial considerations to make.

The government, he said, had implemented the SST exemption as it dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a result, the automotive market, especially second-hand car businesses, were able to remain viable. Otherwise, it would have been difficult for the dealers to survive during the pandemic.

“The incentive has helped to boost the economic sector and our recovery, and the Transport Ministry is able to see this through the transactions at the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

“However, we need to consider the country’s financial capabilities and for that, I will leave it to the discretion of the Finance Ministry,” he said after the launch event of the Atlas automotive operating system here.

The SST exemption was implemented as part of the Penjana stimulus package, which was meant to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

The scheme was originally scheduled to end on Dec 31, 2020, but it has been extended three times, with the latest deadline set at June 30 this year.

Dr Wee said he would be sharing his thoughts on the matter with Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

“I will discuss this when I meet him (Zafrul) soon. As the Transport Minister, I feel the exemption scheme has been a boon for businesses and car dealers. They were able to maintain their businesses and did not have to resort to getting rid of workers.

“But whatever decision made by the Finance Ministry will be supported by the Transport Ministry, as we are part of the same government. “It is a collective decision and responsibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Wee said the Transport Ministry was open to having more tech companies to come up with new smart mobility solutions that would help elevate driving experiences for motorists.

“In an automotive context, smart mobility has the potential to increase our efficiency and productivity on the move.

“So it is very encouraging for me to see home-grown companies from different sectors coming together to develop technology that can improve quality of life for Malaysian motorists.

“Road safety has always been paramount to the Transport Ministry, which is why we always welcome the implementation of new technology, services, and infrastructure with the potential to reduce accidents and fatalities.

“I look forward to seeing what other manufacturers, automotive suppliers and their partners can bring to the table because a robust industry is one where healthy competition can be carried out fairly and transparently,” said Dr Wee in a speech earlier.

Led and developed locally by Aco Tech Sdn Bhd, Atlas is an operating system built as an automotive system solution that runs on the Android 10 platform and above.