Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz today dismissed claims by former prime minister Najib Razak that the country owed over RM115 billion from January to May this year.
He said government loans as of April had totalled RM81.8 billion, reaching RM99.3 billion in May, not RM115.53 billion as Najib had claimed.
“All government loans are based on the expenditure approved in Parliament during the debate on Budget 2021,” he said in a video uploaded on Facebook.
“The government has never used the emergency ordinance to raise or add to spending beyond the ceiling approved in Parliament in August 2020.”
He also said the country is still burdened with debts of more than RM40 billion carried over from Najib’s administration.
He said the RM15.5 billion debt of 1MDB and SRC International had been paid so far⠀although there remained a debt balance of over RM42.3 billion.
“Imagine, if this amount of nearly RM58 billion could have been used, how many of our people could we have helped during this pandemic?
“This is not to leverage the situation, but the issue is very relevant to that of the country’s debts and the government’s fiscal ability to help the people,” he said.
Najib had previously questioned the government’s right to borrow RM115.3 billion from the beginning of the year up until May 22.
He said the loan was “spent at will”, after the Finance Act which controls and monitors government spending was suspended through an emergency ordinance.
Zafrul also challenged Najib’s claim that government loans had amounted to RM115.3 billion, saying the former finance minister had also included loans by government-linked companies such as Petronas and Khazanah.
“Frankly, I don’t know why he included loans made by Petronas and Khazanah as well as the proceeds from the sale of silterra or telecom shares as government loans,” he said.
“In the list of government loans presented by Najib, there are loans made by Petronas and Khazanah.
“These are loans for their respective capital and cash flow needs. These are their debts, not the debts of the federal government.”