KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government might have to sell public assets in order to service the loans accumulated by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.
Speaking at a forum in University of Brunei earlier, Dr Mahathir added that the ventures and projects undertaken by the previous government was not generating enough profit to service the loans it had taken.
“So, now we find that first we have to attend to our borrowings, loans that we have. As you know if you don’t pay your interest, you can be declared bankrupt.
“We have to find the money to pay interest and also the principle later on. That is a tough thing because assets have got to be sold in order to get the money because we are not collecting enough taxes in order to service the loans even.
“And the new ventures that the previous government went into could not yield enough profit to service the loans,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said on top of driving the nation to the brink of bankruptcy, the civil service no longer functioned to serve the government but to help then-ruling party Barisan Nasional win elections.
He pointed out that the first time he became prime minister in 1981, everything was in place with the government machinery working well and all he had to do was to decide what to do with the machinery and the money in the nation’s coffers.
Answering a question from the audience on strategic leadership, Dr Mahathir said the second time he took the reins of power, he found himself in a situation that was a far cry from when he first took office.
However, despite facing a “big problem” he was confident of finding a solution as he believes the matter is a straightforward one.
“That is a big problem for us. We have to work with the machinery of the government which has been spoiled. We need to remove people, find new people, restructure the government.
“So this is costing us a lot of time and money. So we are now unable to do the kind of things we did before to grow the country and develop the country. Now, it is to correct the mistakes of the past, but that is a straightforward strategy, nothing very complicated about it.
“But soon we will have to meet the people’s expectations. They want the country to begin to develop again and for that we still have to depend on foreign direct investment, domestic investment and the management of the finances of the country.
“We can do that, we have some experience and I think that given a little time we may be able to recover,” he said.