Malaysia’s National Debt Declines Following Rise in GDP

KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 (Bernama) — The percentage of national debt has declined following the rise in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the settlement of some loans, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said this when answering a supplementary question from Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) during Minister’s Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat on the efforts and government action in reducing the debt to RM686 billion from RM1 trilion.

Ahmad also claimed the debt amount had risen to RM773 billion now and to that Dr Mahathir said: “In the beginning we studied and found it to be more than RM1 trilion.

“This is a huge figure. With the GDP rising, the percentage of debt has declined. Secondly, when we settled some debts, the overall debt also declined. It no longer affects our efforts to govern and develop the country.”

Meanwhile, when met at the lobby, Dr Mahathir explained that the national debt is now at a manageable level and has come down due to a number of factors, including the government being able to recover quite a lot of money that was lost and was kept by Singapore.

“So, that money has helped to reduce the debt. We are also working hard at trying to reduce the contract value of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL). If we don’t continue with it, we have to pay very huge compensation. so that is being managed.

“But, we see a possibility of reducing more debt through identifying assets of the government, which we can sell. This process is ongoing, it’s not static. It is being lowered, being worked on all the time. I can’t give the exact figure, but I believe it has been reduced quite considerably,” he added.

Asked on plans to sell other assets besides the superyacht Equanimity, the prime minister said the government still had some, including land belonging to it.

“Of course we will sell it to Malaysians, not to foreigners. That will help reduce the debt,” he added.

Yesterday, Genting Malaysia Bhd confirmed it was buying the superyacht Equanimity together with bunkers, fuel, lubricants and other existing consumables on board for a total consideration of US$126 million (RM514.6 million).

— BERNAMA

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