RM1 trillion figure not international definition of debt, says Najib

Najib Razak says the country’s debt level is still better than many other countries.

PETALING JAYA: Najib Razak has again disputed the claim that the country’s debt has hit RM1 trillion, saying the figure was made up by the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“The definition of RM1 trillion in debt is not based on international standards. PH is the only government in the world which uses such a definition.

“Not only is this a lie, it is also a false statement that will not help the country’s economy or win over investors’ confidence,” the former prime minister said, responding to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech to mark PH’s 100 days in power yesterday.

Mahathir in a speech aired over RTM yesterday, among others said that the country would be heading to bankruptcy just by paying interest on its RM1 trillion national debt.

But Najib said although there was an increase in debt during his nine-year administration, he succeeded in managing the country’s deficit.

“As a result, government income and assets, GDP and the assets of government-linked companies have increased more rapidly compared to the debt.”

On his Facebook post, Najib shared a ranking of countries and their debts as published by the US Central Intelligence Agency, putting Malaysia at the 90th spot in a list of 210 countries.

Najib said even if one were to accept the claim that the national debt was about RM1 trillion or 80.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP), Malaysia was still in a good position compared to other countries.

“This is why Malaysia received an ‘A’ credit rating from an international agency in 2017,” he said, referring to Fitch Ratings, which gave Malaysia a “A-” rating with a stable outlook.

He said during Mahathir’s first term as prime minister in the 1990s, the country’s debt against its GDP was between 80% and 103.4%.

“But we were not even bankrupt at 103.4%. But as Mahathir claimed, Malaysia will be bankrupt whether we are at 50.8% or 80.3%,” he said.

Najib also said Malaysia was now behind Thailand and Indonesia in terms of GDP growth.

“I have analysed the numbers and have noted some concerns,” he said, adding that he would be giving more details on this soon.

“In the meantime, the PH government should put more emphasis on ensuring that our economy is in good condition and job opportunities continue to be created.

“Stop using figures or make false promises just to paint a bad image of the BN government. This will surely put an end to the country’s economic growth,” Najib said.