KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has predicted that the national debt can go down to 65 per cent at the end of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) term in 2023.
Speaking to the Dewan Rakyat during the wind up speech of the Supply Bill 2020, Lim was replying to a question by former prime minister and finance minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“In 2023, we will try to reduce the debts as much as we can. The target if possible is 65 per cent. Even though our debt ratio is at 80 per cent, credit rating agencies know we are committed to institutional reforms,” said Lim touching on the nation’s steady credit rating.
Earlier, Lim had needled his political nemesis pointing out that in 2017 the debt ratio to gross domestic product (GDP) was at 80 per cent of the time.
An irritated Najib said he only asked regarding the country’s total debt in 2023 and accused Lim of beating around the bush.
It did not help when the Pekan MP first walked into the Lower House during the winding up of the debate, Lim triggered a furore by stating that “1MDB has walked in”.
Ketereh MP (BN) Tan Sri Annuar Musa demanded Lim to retract his statement but the minister refused.
“What is wrong with 1MDB?” questioned Lim.
However, Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Arif Md Yusof instructed Lim to retract his statement seeing that the issue is undergoing a trial in the High Court.
As Lim retracted his statement, opposition MPs was heard saying that he had “no manners’.
Later, Arau MP (BN) Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim accused Lim of being a thief who had stolen money from Petronas in order to pay off GST refunds.
Both Lim and Arif demanded the Perlis lawmaker to retract his statement.
“All right, I will retract the word thief... and replace it with grabbed (menyambar) the money from Petronas to pay off the GST,” Shahidan cheekily replied.
The speaker who was not amused by the opposition MP’s antics demanded he retracts both statements.
“All right, I will replace grabbed with robber,” an unrelenting Shahidan continued.
“Arau, I’m warning you. Retract your statement,” Arif replied sternly.
Shahidan finally relented and retracted all three of his accusations.
The Bill was passed with a voice vote.