Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said those who avoid paying tax can be regarded as having betrayed the country.
This, he said, was because the responsibility to pay tax was one of the pillars of patriotism.
"The definition of patriotism in our country is that we must discharge our responsibility to the country for the good of the people and the nation.
"When we pay tax, we are helping the people. We instil this spirit, and with this our country will be more successful," he said when opening the National Economic Empowerment (Pena) Conference at the Federal Territory Mosque auditorium in Kuala Lumpur today.
Also present were Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan, who is also Pena Secretariat chairman.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the time had come for the government to introduce the Goods and Service tax (GST), which will be implemented beginning April 1, 2015, because it was for the good of the people and the country's future.
"The benefit is that we will have a stronger source of revenue to accelerate the country's development and the people will be more happier because it is based on resources that will make the progress further," he added.
He said that towards making Malaysia a developed country by 2020, the country should have additional resources to cater to the country's needs, especially in developing infrastructure facilities.
"If we are to look at the country's journey, take a moment to imagine the direction of our country's development, a country where traditional villages, small towns are given a facelift.
"We want new roads, new schools and universities and these require more allocations. So, we need revenue. Otherwise, who is going to pay for all these.
"The other option is to take loans, but if we continue to borrow, what will happen, (if) we cannot pay, the country's rating will drop, we will be bankrupt, the people will suffer. We cannot manage the country like this," he added.
The GST, which was announced by Najib when tabling the 2014 Budget last month, has been set at a rate of only six per cent. Once it kicks in, the existing Sales Tax at 10% and Service Tax at 6% will be discontinued.
Najib also hit out at the opposition for making various promises, as well as, at times, objecting to the implementation of GST, but later supporting it.
"(When) we administer the country, there has to be a sense of responsibility, we admit there are leakages, but we have the determination to correct it, that is why we make public the Auditor-General's Report. No country is perfect," he added.
On empowering the bumiputeras, he said it had been made a national agenda to ensure the group shared the country's wealth fairly.
The one-day seminar aims to provide understanding and information on GST, Budget 2014 and the agenda on empowering bumiputeras. - Bernama, November 24, 2013.