Guan Eng and I on same page over Moody’s rating, Pua tells Najib

Tony Pua says although there is an outlook change for Petronas, the rating remains the same at A1.

PETALING JAYA: Tony Pua has rubbished Najib Razak’s claim that he and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng are contradicting each other over the decision by a credit ratings agency to lower its outlook for Petronas.

Pua, who is Lim’s political secretary, said former premier Najib’s claim was unfounded. What he had said, he explained, was that the revised outlook on Petronas by Moody’s Investors Service was not a downgrade.

“Lim was referring to the (change of outlook) from stable to negative while I was referring to the fact that even though there was an outlook change, the rating remained the same at A1.

“There is nothing contradictory… I don’t care what Najib wants to say because he is no longer relevant in our community,” Pua said on the sidelines of a housing conference here.

Pua had earlier spoken at a Budget 2019 conference hosted at Wisma Rehda by the country’s main body representing the property industry, The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda).

Yesterday, Najib, who is also the former finance minister, took to Facebook to point out an apparent contradiction in Lim and Pua’s stands on the issue, referring to a BFM 89.9 interview where Lim disagreed with Petronas’ “downgrade”.

This followed Putrajaya’s announcement that Petronas would pay RM26 billion in dividends this year and RM54 billion in 2019 to the government.

Moody’s Investors Service last week affirmed Petronas A1 domestic issuer and foreign currency senior unsecured ratings, but changed the outlook from stable to negative.

The negative outlook was reflective of the agency’s view that Petronas’ financial profile may deteriorate if Putrajaya continues to ask it to keep dividend payments high.

Pua had previously said Moody’s was possibly worried that the special dividend payment from Petronas would be more than a one-off payment.

“The statement by the credit rating agency is that if the government continues to take money like that from Petronas, then it will be downgraded,” Pua reportedly said last week.

Najib had poked fun at the two for “not being on the same page”, saying they most probably did not have their own WhatsApp group.