KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — The sale or disposal of government strategic assets falls under the purview of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng insisted today.
In an interview by RTM’s Bicara Politkonomi, hosted by Sayed Munawar Sayed Mohd Mustar, Lim said the ministry does not have the final say on the disposal of government assets but assured that such action taken by Dr Mahathir was to gain funds that are used for the benefit of the rakyat.
“The disposal of [government] assets are under the purview of the prime minister, not the Finance Ministry, but often, I am asked about these matters as if I am the one who sold these assets but that is not under me.
“I would like to stress that we have to believe in the wisdom of the prime minister who is experienced, and for him, I believe, when there is a good offer, why should’t we dispose of something so that we have funds to conduct projects that will benefit the ‘rakyat’?” he said.
Lim added that the sale of government assets is done through open tender to ensure the best possible offer is received, unlike during the time of the previous Barisan Nasional government which, he claimed, preferred to reward certain buyers by offering to sell them strategic assets below market value.
“To date, the Pakatan Harapan government has not sold any piece of land that is own by the government, but the previous government sold a lot of land, as much as RM4.4 billion,” he said.
Lim said this misconception has led certain parties to draw a false conclusion that Dr Mahathir is being controlled by him.
“This is a game to demean the Pakatan Harapan government. The disposable or sale of assets occurs under the purview of the prime minister, yet they blame me, to create a false perception that the nation’s top leader is the puppet of the finance minister.
“But, today, I read an article that says the finance minister is the puppet of the prime minister. We are no one’s puppet. If we are, then we are the puppets of the ‘rakyat’,” he said.
In April, Dr Mahathir said that the government might consider selling more of its assets as a means to manage the national debt.
The overall federal government debt and liabilities exposure is estimated at RM1.17 trillion or 77.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product as of end of June 2019.