Sage Comments on the Malaysian Sugar Tax Implementation - Post Budget 2019

Data received : 5-Nov-2018
Location: Malaysia

Key Take-Aways:
  • Comments on Sugar Tax
    1. After much deliberation, the Sugar Tax has finally been implemented. The Government intends to introduce excise duty from 1 April 2019 at 40 cents per liter on two categories of sugary drinks manufactured in the form of ready-to-drink packaging.
      This is a policy intervention which has been pitched at influencing healthy behaviors, rather than a measure for the government to collect taxes. Such a law may also help the government as savings in healthcare would directly help reduce expenditure, helping the government to better use the monies saved elsewhere.
      Advocates of sugar taxes do make references to the success of tobacco taxes when justifying why they think a sugar tax will work to lower soda consumption. Where the main concern with tobacco is cancer, the main concerns with soda are diabetes and obesity, a major disease and condition.
    2. The Sugar tax will impact the F & B business.
      Businesses that sell these drinks may fear lower revenue from sales of these items as the prices may be raised to keep margins at the same levels whilst some businesses may choose to absorb the tax.
      In addition, businesses such as supermarkets and restaurants may see this as an opportunity to sell healthier options as revenue could still be streamed from these healthier options, replacing potential loss of revenue acquired from the sugary drinks as well as moving in trend towards global consumer health awareness.


Arlene Wherrett, Vice-President and Managing Director Sage Asia said that the Government’s multiple programs consisting of hundreds of millions to support SMEs in Malaysia demonstrates the government’s focus on ensuring SMEs have what they need to be successful

Arlene Wherrett, VP and M.D, Sage Asia

For example:

SME financing funds by commercial financial institutions of RM4.5 billion with 60% guarantee of Business Financing Guarantee Scheme (SJPP) and the RM100 million allocated for TEKUN to finance small entrepreneurs is an encouraging boost for SME’s who account for more than are the backbone of the Malaysian economy.

Permodalan Usahawan Nasional Berhad allocation of RM200 million for the wholesale and retail industry is definitely a good call towards building these segments of businesses.

Additionally, the reduction of income tax to 17% for companies with taxable revenue under 500k does offer companies the ability to apply more resources towards technology adoption.

Commenting on Industry 4.0 industry, the RM210 million allocated towards the promotion of Malaysia’s transition towards Industry 4.0 between 2019-2021 is timely and in line with developments around the world, and a resounding call of support to Malaysian businesses to be on the frontline of technology adoption.

This will enable businesses to maximise their productivity, allowing for resources to be redeployed to revenue-generating activities. In fact, automation and AI have been proven to also ease the manpower crunch around the world, which Malaysia also faces.


Sage will be proactive to adopt the changes into their accounting software, making the transition easy for businesses affected and will take a proactive approach with customers to ensure a seamless adoption of this new tax.

To be successful in implementing the new taxes, businesses need to invest time to put in place measures that will eventually automate and ease the tax computations. To save time and effort, businesses can take advantage of software and technologies that can ease such operational burdens which reduces operational costs as the transaction can be automated.

Editor's comments:
  • The Malaysian SME economy benefited immensely from the low cost offerings of financial accounting solutions from Sage - with proactive update rollouts in line with the changes of government's policies and directives.
  • Industry 4.0 initiative is the new gold rush for technology vendors following the traditions of Y2K bug, cloud computing, GST etc
  • The critical success factor is for businesses to undergo paradigm shift to achieve higher competitive advantage, to take the opportunity to perform change management and also to reinvent the core business, as well as reprioritising of resources.
  • Adoption of the Industry 4.0 initiative is an investment in the short term scenario.

Post Budget 2019 Commentary Comments on Sugar Tax, SME & Technology Initiatives by Arlene Wherrett, Vice-President and Managing Director Sage Asia