Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has lambasted former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak for deceiving the public with confusing definitions of the national debt level.
Earlier today, Najib referred to a Moody’s Investor Service report to again accuse the Pakatan Harapan government of "misleading the public" by inflating the country’s debt level to RM1 trillion.
In response, Lim denied overstating the magnitude of the country's debt, and reiterated that the RM1 trillion figure was made up of both debts and liabilities.
“Unlike what the former prime minister said, Moody’s did say that direct government debt is RM687 billion. We have never denied that direct government debt is RM687 billion.
“I would reject what Najib claims, that our debt level is not at RM1.08 trillion.
“The federal government debt is at that level because we want to include contingent liabilities, which have become direct debt, and those guarantees which have become direct debt,” he explained.
Lim thus advised Najib against “hiding behind definitions” in order to mask the true state of the economy.
“So why don’t you call a spade a spade, why do you want to hide behind (and say) that this is not a direct debt when it is a direct debt?
“Why do you want to continue to hide behind the definition?
“You are not only deceiving the people, but also deceiving yourself, in order to pretend that out debt level is not so high,” he said after distributing Hari Raya goodies at the Palace of the Golden Horses hotel in Seri Kembangan tonight.
Last month, the finance minister provided a breakdown to show how the government arrived at the RM1 trillion figure.