Debt not a bane, all countries have debt, says Bersatu lawmaker

Ida Nadirah Ibrahim
Jeli MP Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 17, 2019. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
Jeli MP Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 17, 2019. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed said debt is not necessarily a bad thing as all countries carry debt.

The chairman of the Special Select Committee was talking on RTM talk show Ruang Bicara: Naratif Rakyat earlier this evening.

Tok Pa, as he is more popularly called, said the other good thing is Malaysia has a good track record in paying back its debt.

The special committee had recently released the full report on the national debt and liabilities for 2018-2020, which is available on the Parliament website.

“Debt is normal, other countries like the US also have debts. It’s not a bad thing. If we want to do business, we have to be in debt otherwise there will be no banks. This would also enhance the economic growth.

“What is important is that the debt is managed well. Every year since 1998, we have been in deficit, but Malaysia has never not been able to fulfill its promises. Meaning our debt repayment record is excellent,” he explained.

Tok Pa added the committee had outlined eight recommendations in its report, which was signed by all seven members, for the Federal government to consider.

He said among the recommendations were the tabling of the committee’s report in Parliament, to set a ceiling rate for the country’s debt, to observe the financial ratios closely, such as the deficit and gross domestic product (GDP) ratio, as well as to make comparisons with other countries, such as Asean nations.

“This committee is a reformation by the government to have check and balance. What we would suggest is for the report to be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat so that the people know what is in it.

“We also suggested that there be a ceiling rate for the national debt because currently there isn’t one. This is a good measure for good governance because if there is no ceiling rate, then the debt will keep increasing,” he said.

The Jeli MP said among the ratios that need to be observed closely is the percentage of servicing the debt.

“Right now, it is 13.1 per cent to pay interest, which in our view is quite high. Our report does not state the percentage, but we believe that 13.1 per cent is not the correct figure. “We don’t know the actual figure and the Federal government has to review this matter,” said the Barisan Nasional lawmaker.

Last Thursday, the committee had said that the country’s overall debt and liabilities stood at RM1.09 trillion at the end of last year, compared with RM1.08 trillion in 2017.

Mustapha said the national debt stood at RM741 billion at the end of last year, which was RM54.2 billion higher than the previous year.

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