Najib glad MOF comes clean about federal government debt

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (file photo)


KUCHING: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is glad that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has come clean about the official federal government debt.

He quoted Lim’s recent statement as saying that “the official federal government debt remains at RM686.8 billion (50.8 per cent of the gross domestic product or GDP) – not 65 per cent or RM1 trillion as previously claimed.”

“The level of 50.8 per cent is much lower than the 103.4 per cent reached during the first reign of (Prime Minister) Tun (Dr) Mahathir Mohamad,” said Najib in a Facebook post on Friday.

He said under his leadership, the previous government had always complied with international public debt reporting guidelines as defined by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.

As such, the figure of 50.8 per cent “is a universally accepted measurement”, he pointed out.

He said contingent obligations such as guarantees had never been included in the official measurement of government debt, not even during Dr Mahathir’s previous reign.

The government had given these guarantees to certain entities it owned to help lower their financing cost, said Najib, adding that these were typically long-term obligations backed with revenue-generating assets.

“As for PPP or PFI leases, these are operating expenses and not debt, and are for much needed social infrastructure including schools, police stations, hospitals and universities.

“The previous BN government has been transparent and had never hidden these figures revealed by the finance minister. All these figures were published in Treasury Reports, BNM reports, Accountant General reports, Auditor General Reports every year without fail,” he said.

Najib asserted that market analysts, economists and investors “are all well aware of these numbers, which are manageable and can be serviced, a fact confidently admitted by the Minister of Finance himself.”

He stressed that the previous federal government did not hide RM300 billion of debts or falsified figures as alleged.

“The spade has always been called a spade as per universally accepted guidelines.

“Now that the truth is revealed about this ‘RM1 trillion national debt’, we congratulate the new government for unnecessarily spooking the market which has led to sharp falls of our stock exchange this week – capping 14 consecutive days of foreign capital outflows.

“This debacle has led to real losses to stock market investors and our GLICs such as EPF, KWAP, Khazanah and Tabung Haji. I hope and pray that PH government ministers will be more careful in making assertions in future,” added Najib.

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