In a Facebook post today, former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said he was glad that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng “came clean” in his Thursday statement (May 24) on how the official federal government debt remains at RM686.8bil.
He said this is 50.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and not 65% or RM1 trillion as previously claimed by Pakatan Harapan government.
Najib also argues that guarantees should not be included in the official government debt.
“Contingent obligations, such as guarantees, have never been included in the official measurement of government debt, not even during Tun Mahathir’s previous reign.
“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 added.
Najib also commented on Public Private Partnership (PPP) or private finance initiative (PFI) 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. All these figures are published in Treasury Reports, BNM reports, Accountant General reports, Auditor General Reports every year without fail,” said Najib.
He said that market analysts, economists and investors are all well aware of these numbers, which are manageable and can be serviced, adding 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.