KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan government should not blame the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue for causing the country's fiscal deficit to reach 3.7% this year, says former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic).
"They only want to blame the Barisan Nasional government and the 1MDB issue, but they fail to mention the assets owned by 1MDB.
"If they monetise the assets, all the loans can be written off," Najib told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Friday (Nov 2).
The country's fiscal deficit was expected to reach 3.7% this year, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Lim, who tabled the 2019 Budget, said this was due to the previous government's prior spending commitments.
The Finance Minister said the government had found out that the previous administration secretly paid RM7bil of 1MDB debt as at April 30, 2018.
"The government may need to pay as much as RM43.9bil to settle 1MDB debts," said Lim.
Najib said this did not mean that he was trying to stop authorities from taking action against those who abused power in 1MDB.
He said the main problem contributing to the deficit was the Goods and Services Tax (GST) being abolished and the loss of revenue during the tax holiday period before the Sales and Service Tax (SST) went into effect.
On the budget, Najib said there was nothing extraordinary or nor were there major improvements introduced by Pakatan.
He claimed that many of the initiatives had actually been considered under the Barisan Nasional government.
"It sounds more like a political speech. There are no major policies that could stimulate the country's economy.
"They also contradicted many things from their general election manifesto, including the promise to bring down petrol prices," said Najib.
On the US Department of Justice's (DoJ) decision to charge two former Goldman Sachs bankers and fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho over the 1MDB scandal, Najib said it was up to them to do so.
"It is their right and within the purview of their laws," said Najib.
The DOJ, in a three-count criminal indictment, charged Low, also known as “Jho Low,” and Ng Chong Hwa, also known as “Roger Ng,” with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from
1MDB and conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.
The DoJ had arrested Ng in Malaysia on Thursday (Nov 1), while ex-Goldman banker Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty to charges and agreed to pay US$43.7mil in restitution on ill-gotten gains.