Following is an editorial adapted from NST Online complete with responses by TTF (in blue):
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s fiscal position is strengthening and the economy will regain its lustre by 2021, leading to the return of the country’s status as an ‘Asian Tiger’, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said the government has been endeavouring to reduce its current debt and liabilities of RM1.087 trillion – or 80.3 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) – to 65 per cent of GDP by 2021 through various initiatives. These include the renegotiation of mega projects like the mass rapid transit (MRT) development in the capital city.
TTF: Malaysia’s debt in November 2017, as reported by the then Ministry of Finance (MoF), stood at a meagre RM685.1 billion, far from the “over RM1 trillion” claim repeatedly made by Lim Guan Eng.
To date, Lim’s MoF has never been able to provide figures to prove Najib’s 2017 MoF wrong and has yet to take Najib to task over the matter if indeed the MoF lied by stylising data.
The national debt at press time stood at RM737.2 billion, a 7.6 per cent increase of what the previous Barisan Nasional government left Pakatan Harapan with.
Multiple world renowned credit rating corporations confirmed that our Debt-to-GDP ratio prior to the 14th general election was a healthy 50.8 per cent.
These same corporations – whose findings PH used prior to GE14 as benchmarks to stress that Malaysia was going bankrupt – have rubbished Guan Eng’s claims over and over again.
For the record, prior to GE14, Japan’s debt was at 240% of GDP, Singapore’s at 111% and the United Kingdom’s at 89%, meaning, if any country were to have gone bankrupt, it would have had to be them, not Malaysia.
“The total allocation for budget 2019 is RM314.5 billion – up 12.2 per cent compared to Budget 2018.
“And after all the statements about the country’s national debt being at RM1 trillion instead of the RM680 billion mentioned by BN up to the end of last year, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng stated when tabling the budget that as of the second quarter of this year national debt was at RM725.2 billion.”
And today, he’s reverting back to his earlier claim that the debt is RM1 trillion.
In other words, the rakyat got conned then and is still being conned now.
Official Bank Negara figures show that the national debt was at RM686.8 billion prior to the 14thgeneral election, a fact even the least savvy of internet users could affirm by browsing through the central bank’s official site.
A quick check would reveal that our total GDP in 2017, crunched using current exchange rates, stood at a reasonable RM1.353 trillion, bringing the exact value of the Debt-to-GDP ratio for the year ending 2017 at 50.7 per cent.
The GDP for 2018, on the other hand, rose RM7.6 billion as the country added RM54.3 billion to its debt pile, bringing the new Debt-to-GDP ratio to an exact 51.8 per cent, 1.1 per cent upstream of what the previous Barisan Nasional government left us with.
It is impossible for the Debt-to-GDP ratio to have registered a decrease in 2018, as not only did our GDP growth dip 1.2 per cent from the previous year, our budget recorded a 3.7 per cent deficit, 0.7 per cent higher than what it was in 2017.