PETALING JAYA,. Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has taken a swipe at the new administration for its statements on federal government debt in a sarcasm-laced Facebook post.
“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,” said Najib yesterday.
He said he hoped and prayed that Pakatan Harapan ministers would be more careful in making assertions in future.
“This debacle has led to real losses to stock market investors and our GLICs (Government-Linked Investment Companies) such as EPF, KWAP, Khazanah and Tabung Haji,” he said.
He said this is 50.8% of the gross domestic product, and not 65% or RM1 trillion as previously claimed.
The Pekan MP said the level of 50.8% is much lower than the 103.4% reached during the first reign of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib said the previous Barisan Nasional government had always complied with international public debt reporting guidelines as defined by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and termed the 50.8% as a “universally accepted measurement”
“Contingent obligations, such as guarantees, have never been included in the official measurement of government debt, not even during Tun Mahathir’s previous reign,” said Najib.
“The government had given these guarantees to certain entities it owns to help lower their financing cost. These are typically long-term obligations backed with revenue-generating assets.”
He also commented on public private partnership or private finance initiative leases, saying that these are “operating expenses” for much needed social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals and therefore not debts.
“The previous Barisan government has been transparent and had never hidden these figures revealed by the Finance Minister today.
“All these figures are published in Treasury reports, BNM reports, Accountant General reports, Auditor-General reports every year without fail,” said Najib.
He added that market analysts, economists and investors are well aware of these “manageable” and serviceable numbers, and said that this is “a fact confidently admitted by the Finance Minister himself”.
“Therefore, we did not hide RM300bil of debts or falsified figures as alleged. The spade had always been called a spade as per universally accepted guidelines,” said Najib.