KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 2018 : Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has questioned Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s figures on the country’s debt and cost of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) project, claiming that they were inaccurate.
In a post on his Facebook page yesterday, Najib said he viewed Lim’s move as politically motivated.
“The focus should now be to safeguard our country’s economic growth, jobs and financial stability – not playing politics with inflated ‘guesstimates’ to provide an excuse for not delivering on Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) manifesto as per its promised timeline,” he said.
He said the Finance Minister of a country should provide accurate figures as the financial markets depend on these in making their decisions.
“As a result of the unnecessary spooking, the stock market has experienced 18 consecutive days of foreign outflows,” he said.
“It was only after various parties including myself had questioned did he clarify that the official government debt remains at RM686.8 billion or 50.8% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” said Najib.
Najib claims that the figure of 50.8% is “the lowest it has been for the past 10 years” and “significantly lower than the 103.4% reached in the past” under the premiership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Najib said that Lim also continues to insist that the scrapped Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail (HSR) project cost RM100 billion.
“Although the Singapore and Malaysian government had previously estimated it will cost a maximum of RM72 billion including land acquisition cost,” he said.
Lim said that the Government’s RM100 billion valuation of the HSR project is the total sum of the project cost and interest.
However, Najib said that the RM100 billion figure is “inflated”.
“How he arrived at this figure is unclear as the international tender which requires those participating to propose their financing packages only closes in December 2018,” he said.
Najib also criticised Lim for ignoring the requests to reveal the feasibility and economic impact studies for the HSR project.
“In the interest of transparency, these reports should be revealed to the public to determine if the best interest of Malaysia is served by cancelling the project,” he said.
Najib said that Lim continued with his inaccurate “guesstimates” when he said that 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) current debt is RM50 billion, including interest.
“[It is] a figure higher than the RM30 billion and RM38 billion that he had given in the past week,” he said.
“Instead of continuing to use 1MDB as political capital, the new Pakatan Harapan government should ensure the rationalization plan for 1MDB is continued.
“It’s previous asset values should be enhanced and monetized to pay down the debt,” said Najib.
At the end of his post, Najib said though he accepted the loss of the coalition led by him to PH, the new government should focus on delivering their promises.
“A few months ago, the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) reported that the then Barisan Nasional-led Malaysia will reach high-income nation status in as early as in three year’s time.
“The PH government should ensure we remain on course to meet this target,” he added. – Agencies