DAP: Gov’t manipulated laws to legitimise debt

Feb 17, 2012

DAP has blamed the country’s rising debt level to the ruling BN having raised the statutory borrowing ceiling “multiple times” to legitimise the debt.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua slammed the government for modifying the ceiling “at its whims and fancies over the past decade, rendering meaningless the legal debt ceiling”.

Therefore, he said, the government’s debt at 53.8 percent of GDP as reported in the Economic Report 2011/2 is below the statutory borrowing ceiling of 55 percent, is purely the result of the government’s “creative manipulation”.

“What is worrying is the fact that the ‘statutory borrowing ceiling’ has actually been raised multiple times by the BN government over the past decade to ‘legalise’ the federal government debt level which has been increasing at a much faster pace than our GDP.

The 55 percent statutory borrowing ceiling only came into effect in July 2009 by order of current second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

“Prior to the revised limit, the limit was set at 45 percent in June 2008, barely 13 months before by the then second finance minister Nor Md Yakcop,” said Pua in a statement today.

He added that the limit was raised to 40 percent five years before that, by then second minister finance minister Jamaluddin Jarjis.

“Hence our statutory borrowing ceiling has been raised by 15 percent of our GDP in just six years.

“The question is if the ceiling is repeatedly raised with such nonchalance, why did the government bother setting a limit at all?” said Pua, who is also PJ Utara MP.

More creative accounting?

Pua then questioned whether the government will again raise the ceiling as our debt level is expected to scale up beyond 55 percent over the next two years.

Yesterday, citing the government’s Economic Report 2011-2012 published last year, Pua pointed out that federal government debt will hit RM455.7 billion as at the end of 2011 or 65.2 percent of our GDP, well above the current limit.

Besides shifting the goal posts, Pua also noticed that the government is using other ‘creative measures’ to by-pass the limit set by law.

One of the glaring examples is the first phase of Klang Valley MRT mega-project which costs around RM20 billion.

Pua pointed out that since the MRT project was never debated in the Budget 2012 tabled in Parliament for approval last year, it is clear that the funding will be raised by a wholly-owned ‘special purpose vehicle’ (SPV) known as Dana Infra, and guaranteed by the government.

“This way, the BN federal government kills two birds with one stone.

“Firstly, the debt raised will not be part of the federal government debt because Dana Infra is ‘not’ federal government and hence will not be perceived to jeopardise our credit standings.

“This is despite the fact that all parties are expecting MRT to be a financially loss-making project and that the federal government will have to fund Dana Infra’s debt repayments at some point in the future,” he explained.

Where’s the transparency?

Other examples are the construction of 74 police headquarters with government-guaranteed RM10 billion debt by Ministry of Finance-owned Pembinaan BLT Sdn Bhd, and the proposed RM20 billion sukuk plan by Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) to restructure the country’s water assets.

“Governments all over the world, especially in developed countries like the UK and Germany, are now changing their laws to require such debts and contingent liabilities to be incorporated into the government’s financial statement to ensure greater transparency and financial accountability.

“This is to avert a financial crisis which has already enveloped the Euro-zone over the past two years.

“However, it appears that the Malaysian government is still sitting back and resting easy, while making full use of the ‘loop-hole’ in our government financial reporting standards to continue to recklessly indebt future Malaysians with none of the checks put in place,” he added.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 4:28 pm

    Eventually the rakyat will be the big losers and the day will come where Malaysia is many times worse off than Greece.

    Idris Jala’s prediction that Malaysia will go bankrupt by 2020 is certainly not far-fetched.

  2. #2 by HJ Angus on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 4:41 pm

    Any fool can do this type of spending to expand the economy but it is not sustainable.
    If one examines how govrnment spends especially on the civil service, there is no doubt that we will end up like Greece…..the only thing is no one is going to bail us out.

  3. #3 by sotong on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 4:53 pm

    When the country is bankrupt, it has reached its limit!

    They don’t care about the future….they want everything now.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 6:23 pm

    Tony talks about “creative measures” through SPVs (Klang Valley MRT mega-project) to by-pass the limit set by law ie the Loan (Local) Act 1959 and Government Funding Act 1983 that put in place a 55% federal government debt limit relative to Malaysia’s GDP as determined by the MOF. What about the External Loan Act 1963 which authorises govt to raise external loan outside Malaysia for purposes of the Federal Development Fund or repayment or amortization of loans raised outside Malaysia? Supposedly they shall not exceed limit specified by the King as published in gazette. What is not certain is whether external loan cannot exceed the gazetted limit on each case of borrowing or on cumulative basis. What part if any is played by these external loans raised under External Loan Act 1963 in overall scheme of debt ceiling set by the Loan (Local) Act 1959 and Government Funding Act 1983?

  5. #5 by monsterball on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 7:22 pm

    Tony Puah have revealed all…that even a less educated can easily understand.. how the corrupt UMNO b Govt… keep manipulating the laws…to suit their whims and fancies.

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 8:16 pm

    Did the Opposition oppose the move to raise the ceilings when these were raised in Parliament in the past? Why make noise now and not then?

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 8:16 pm

    Hey, I am not moderated today. Hot dawg !!

  8. #8 by monsterball on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 9:16 pm

    sheriff singh….those are govt secret documents.
    How to raise the issue in Parliament?
    Now you know why make nose now…and not before.
    How did a secret document falls into the hands of Tony Puah….that is another matter.
    Are you clear now?

  9. #9 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 17 February 2012 - 11:10 pm

    I believe the target of of achieving 1st world status by targeting rm$50,000.00 per capital will be reached when the rm$ equals = us$0.20 cents. By then the Americans would have watered down their us$ = 2 rmb!

  10. #10 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 12:44 am

    Somebody cannot appreciate that the statutory limit of 55% is set by two acts of parliament which also gives the minister considerable powers to raise it at the stroke of their pens.

    The failure of the Opposition to be attentive all these while has led to government abuse but Tony has now caught this monkey business because he was alert and he reads the fine prints.

    No secret. Are you clear now? No? Can’t help it if you are slow.

  11. #11 by sotong on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 9:54 am

    There are complex network and companies to get their hands into the country’s coffers.

  12. #12 by Kampong Orang on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 10:35 am

    Any financial system that is based on debt is doomed to fail.

    You want to live like the Greek now as here?

    New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/the-way-greeks-live-now.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=magazine

  13. #13 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 11:20 am

    Creative measures? Those measures look downright crude to me.

  14. #14 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 12:24 pm

    The sudden rapid growth of our gobermen debt is bad news. We ought to be panicking and to set all alarm bells ringing. Instead of fighting corruption and save the country the billions and billions needed for development the umno gobermen decided to borrow more (directly or indirectly, through spv and guarantee).

  15. #15 by mm08 on Saturday, 18 February 2012 - 12:57 pm

    Who is going to make Malaysia bankrupt, the government! Without the control of the wastage and leakages of the public fund, couple with the unnecessary mega projects such as the MRT, our country’ s financial may be in a deep shit like the Europe country one day.

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