KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — Finance Minister’s political secretary Tony Pua today rubbished Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s claims that the government’s RM4 billion bond issuance directly increases the national debt.
In a statement today, the Damansara MP said that the bond issuance is part of the government’s normal and transparent operations to manage the fiscal deficit stemming from government expenditures.
Taking a jibe at the former prime minister, Pua said that the process is a credible one compared to the alleged practice under Najib’s watch, in which the Barisan Nasional (BN) government gave confidential support letter to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to obtain billions of ringgit in loans.
“Don’t tell me that as someone who held the Finance Minister’s post for more than a decade, he does not know that the monthly bond issuance by Bank Negara Malaysia is something that is normal all these while, to manage the deficit from the national budget?
“Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had tabled the 2019 Budget at a 3.4 per cent deficit of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared to a higher rate of 3.7 per cent in 2018.
“For the information of the masses, the issuance of bonds and sukuks is to pay the fiscal deficit which exists yearly. This issuance is scheduled and arranged and not done secretly as how Najib portrayed in his statement,” Pua added.
Najib had on his Facebook post yesterday said that Lim has borrowed RM4 billion two days ago, and added that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had borrowed a lot of money in 2018.
“But for 2019 alone as of mid-May, the PH government has borrowed RM58 billion (RM51 billion government sukuk and RM7 billion Samurai bonds) and paid back RM17.7 billion.
“Therefore, the country’s official debt count has reached RM781.4 billion,” Najib wrote.
Pua also teased Najib by saying it comes as no surprise that the latter was labelled as Asia’s worst finance minister in 2016, by Hong Kong based business magazine, FinanceAsia.
“We are confident that with honest and credible governance, the number of government bond and sukuk issuance will decrease in stages, when the deficit rate reduces from 3.7 per cent for 2018, to less than 2.8 per cent in 2021,” he added.