KUALA LUMPUR – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has reiterated that Malaysia would not go bankrupt as it managed to reduce its debt to 50.4 per cent against the self-imposed ceiling of 55 per cent, garnered higher foreign reserves, while works on infrastructure projects are in full swing.
The Prime Minister said the government had made bold decisions such as implementing the Economic Transformation Programme to boost the economy, creating 2.26 million jobs and raising income to between 5.0-6.0 per cent per year.
“We have a self-imposed limit of 55 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product), we have reduced it to 50.4 per cent.
“During the Asian Financial Crisis, our reserves was down to US$20 billion, we didn’t go bankrupt then. Now, our reserves are about US$124 billion. Can you say we’re bankrupt?” he said at the “Budget 2018 with the Rakyat” programme, here today.
Permodalan Nasional Bhd Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar was present.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said Malaysia’s economic growth of 5.9 per cent in 2017 was among the highest in the world, while its inflation and unemployment rate were low.
“That is the big picture. Our achievements have received very good reviews from international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation who commended Malaysia as our economy is moving in the right direction and our policies are showing positive results, including some measures that we have taken,” he said.
Najib said the government is listening to the people and Budget 2018 addressed their needs.
“What we’ve collected through GST (goods and services tax) and other taxes we give back to the people. We’ve given back a lot to the people such as special payments for civil servants because our revenue base is stronger
“This government will take care of you and will continue to take care of you,” he said, adding that the government would unravel some of the earlier decisions made on toll roads.
“I will unravel some of the earlier decisions what I think are not to the interest of the people of Malaysia. That I would do. We have unravelled IPP (independent power producer), the very unpopular privatisation, sweetheart deal what I called it. I will review the toll (roads) if we have the remaining funds.
“What we have to safeguard, we will rescue. (For example) Proton is too big to fail. We will make sure Proton survives, but we will restructure to make it competitive,” he added.
Under Budget 2018, toll collection at several toll were abolished from Jan 1 this year. The toll plazas were Batu Tiga and Sungai Rasau in Shah Alam, Bukit Kayu Hitam in Kedah and the Eastern Dispersal Link in Johor.
“We believe that we can bring this nation to a higher level, we will get there, and we will reorganise whichever is not right and we move ahead.
“But I do not say that this government is not making any mistakes. I am humbled enough to admit there are weaknesses in the government but we are prepared to learn from our mistakes and improves the governance,” the Prime Minister said.