KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 ― Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz today affirmed Malaysia’s debt and liabilities currently stand at RM1.2 trillion as announced by the former Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.
He debunked claims by Umno MPs claim that PH lied when its then finance minister Lim Guan Eng gave that figure.
He also clarified that the enormous amount did not mean the government, now led by Perikatan Nasional (PN), is “bankrupt”.
“When you say a government is bankrupt, it is based on its ability to repay its debts on time.
“We have been paying all our debts on time,” Tengku Zafrul said in his wind-up speech to the King’s address in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said the RM1.2 trillion sum is separated into debts and liabilities. The country’s debts currently total RM854 billion.
“If you include the government's liabilities and the off-budget, which the PN government does not do, it will reach RM1.2 trillion,” he explained.
Tengku Zafrul was replying Damansara MP Tony Pua who asked Malaysia’s exact debt amount, taking into account its guaranteed debts and liabilities like public-private partnership projects.
The minister detailed that in the first quarter this year, federal debt stood at RM823.8 billion while its committed guarantee totalled RM166.9 billion, which were for government-guaranteed projects and other liabilities amounting to RM166 billion.
“If you take into account the government's direct debts and the committed guarantee, then the government's debt stands at RM1.264 trillion. That is the nation's debt now,’ Tengku Zafrul said.
He said the government's debt last year was RM793 billion, due to a deficit in its gross domestic product; and added that in 2018 it was RM741 billion and in 2017, it was RM686.8 billion.
Lim who is Bagan MP sparked a nationwide uproar from Malaysians who feared the country was in the red when he announced in 2018 that Malaysia’s debts and liabilities amounted to RM1 trillion.