PETALING JAYA: Former premier Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has sarcastically "congratulated" the Pakatan Harapan government over the downgrading of Petronas' outlook from stable to negative by Moody’s Investors Service.
"Congratulations to the Harapan government ... this is the outcome of expert management in running the country's finances, and smart moves taken in Budget 2019 such as ordering Petronas to pay high dividends to cushion the shortfall in revenue," Najib said sarcastically in a Facebook post on Thursday (Nov 8).
He also warned that this would impact Malaysia's credit rating overall.
“This is when oil prices are said to be high and stable. But what if oil prices drop?
“What buffer do we have to cushion an oil crisis, if it happens again?” he said.
He added that the previous administration Barisan Nasional worked hard to reduce the country's dependence on oil revenue by diversifying resources, in line with current needs and with the world economic development.
"But the PH government wants to go back in time," said Najib.
Earlier on Thursday, Moody's affirmed Petronas' A1 domestic issuer and foreign currency senior unsecured ratings, but changed the outlook from stable to negative.
"The negative outlook on Petronas' ratings reflects our view that its financial profile may deteriorate if the government continues to ask the company to keep dividend payments high, especially if oil prices decline," said Moody's senior vice-president Vikas Halan in a statement on Thursday.
He said such a situation would no longer support a ratings level for the company that was currently two notches above that of the sovereign debt.
Last Friday (Nov 2), Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced during the tabling of Budget 2019 that Petronas will make a one-off special dividend of RM30bil which will go towards repaying the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and income tax refunds of RM37bil.
Moody’s leaves Petronas ratings unchanged but lowers outlook to negative