Najib congratulates Guan Eng for 'spooking market' with RM1 trillion debt claim

NST Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday took a swipe at the Pakatan Harapan government, sarcastically thanking the administration for unnecessarily spooking the market with its RM1 trillion national debt claim. Najib said the government’s action led to sharp falls of the 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 government ministers will be more careful in making assertions in future,” he said in his Facebook posting, titled “The 'spade' had always been called a spade”. Najib, who was previously also Finance Minister, said he was glad that Finance Minister Guan Eng chose to come clean on the official federal government debt by stating that the official federal government debt remains at RM686.8 billion or 50.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). "(And) not 65 per cent of GDP 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 Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad," he Najib. Najib said his administration had always complied with international public debt reporting guidelines as defined by the IMF and World Bank. “Therefore, the figure of 50.8 per cent is a universally accepted measurement,” he added. He said contingent obligations, such as guarantees, have never been included in the official measurement of government debt, not even during Dr Mahathir's previous reign. “The previous government gave these guarantees to certain entities it owns to help lower their financing cost. These are typically long-term obligations backed with revenue-generating assets. “As for PPP (public private partnership) and PFI (private finance initiative), these are operating expenses and not debt, and are for much needed social infrastructure, including schools, police stations, hospitals, universities, etc,” he added. Najib said the previous BN government never hid the figures stated by Lim. "All these figures were published in Treasury Reports, Bank Negara Malaysia reports, Accountant General reports, Auditor-General Reports every year without fail. "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 finance minister himself." He said the previous government also did not hide RM300 billion of debts or falsified figures as alleged.

(File pic) Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the government’s action led to sharp falls of the stock exchange this week - capping 14 consecutive days of foreign capital outflows. (NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH)

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd