Govt has never used Emergency to boost spending over statutory debt ceiling, says Tengku Zafrul


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The government has never used the Emergency Ordinance to raise revenue or increase spending beyond the statutory debt ceiling approved by Parliament in August 2020, says Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz (pic).

Parliament voted in August 2020 to increase the debt limit to 60% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 55% previously.

Tengku Zafrul said government loans amounted to RM81.8bil as of April 2021 and about RM99.3bil as of May, not RM115.53bil as claimed by certain quarters.

“All government loans are based on expenditures approved by Parliament during the Budget 2021 tabling, ” he said in a video posted to Facebook Wednesday (May 26).

In the post, he denied various unfounded claims including that the government had raised RM115.53bil up to May 2021 in order to spend at will and that the government’s borrowings and spending activity lacked transparency amid the state of Emergency.

He also replied to allegations that the “loans” were additional funds and the due government assistance was not given during the Movement Control Order 2.0 and 3.0.

On funds raised by Petronas and Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Tengku Zafrul said the companies took the loans for their respective capital and cashflow requirements.

“These are their debts, not the Federal Government’s debts, ” he stressed.

He also explained that the government of the day did not obtain off-balance sheet financing, unlike previous governments where the federal debt jumped more than 120% between 2008 and 2017 while total government guarantees surged by over 240%.

On legacy debts of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), SRC International and Suria Strategic Energy Resources (SSER) amounting to over RM40bil, Tengku Zafrul noted that RM15.5bil of 1MDB and SRC’s debts had been repaid by the government to-date.

However, there remains more than RM42.3bil in debts, comprising both principal and interest.

“Just imagine how many people we could have helped during this pandemic if this amount of nearly RM58bil were available for use.

“Don’t mean to stir up (something unpleasant), but this is highly relevant to the national debt issue and the government’s fiscal ability to assist the people, ” he explained. – Bernama

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