“If the trade war escalates or worsens, there will be a contingency package to try to insulate Malaysia as much as possible from any adverse impact,” he said.

“There is [an] expectation that the trade dispute would end by the end of this year, but we need some sort of contingency.”

In his keynote address, Guan Eng said the government remains confident of achieving its gross domestic product growth target of 4.6% this year.

“We are aware that there is an element of concern about political uncertainty in Malaysia. We found that surprising [as the matter] has been addressed repeatedly.

“I would like to emphasise again that Malaysia has a stable political environment. We have a stable government, and a prime minister certain about the political future of the country.”

Guan Eng said although the government is hoping more taxpayers will participate in the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme (SVDP), criminal offenders such as fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) will not be able to use the tax amnesty programme to escape criminal prosecution.

“The SVDP only covers taxation laws, and not criminal laws. It doesn’t mean people like Jho Low can come and declare unreported incomes and everything is cleared.

“The SVDP will clear income tax issues, but he (Jho Low) will still be subjected to any criminal prosecution, for stealing money.”

As of June 23, 2019, Guan Eng said 486,360 taxpayers had come forward to the IRB to participate in the SVDP, declaring their unreported incomes.

“I urge all taxpayers to make full use of this one-time initiative introduced by the government, whereby the declaration made will be accepted in good faith by the Inland Revenue Board, without any further probe. Guan Eng, in his speech, also said the IRB needs to cooperate with taxpayers in achieving a higher tax compliance.

“Taxpayers must be treated as a partner in national development by the IRB, and not as someone suspicious and to be ‘dealt’ with. Further, the relationship between tax collectors and taxpayers is governed by the rule of law.

“A friendlier and more professional rules-based approach can result in higher tax revenue through voluntary compliance. No more raids by officers with firearms wearing balaclava masks,” he said.