Malaysia's economy is currently in a good position, so the government should focus on growth and not austerity, AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said today.
He said the government must focus on increasing its efficiency and productivity in order to grow jobs and be a driving force in Asean.
“Focus on those industries that can bring income quick, and technology and ideas that can bring big growth (for the country),” he tweeted.
Fernandes said economic growth would enable the government to handle its debt, and that the ringgit will strengthen to about 3.80 against the US dollar soon.
Bank Negara had announced that federal government debt stood at RM686.8 billion as at end-2017, equivalent to 50.8 percent of GDP.
Subsequently, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said federal government debt and liabilities amounted to RM1.08 trillion as at Dec 31, 2017.
This includes RM199.1 billion of government guarantees on behalf of state-linked entities, which he said were unable to service their debt.
Lim added the government was also committed to RM201.4 billion in lease payments for rental, maintenance and other charges for public-private partnership projects, such as the construction of schools, hostels, roads, police stations and hospitals.
Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat today, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government was considering securing a loan facility from Japan to reduce the “high cost of money,” as the interest rate on debt taken by the previous administration was too high at six percent.
He said the value of the Japanese yen was cheaper than the ringgit with one yen equalling 1 US cent, while RM1 was worth 25 US cents, and repaying Malaysia's debt in the Japanese yen meant the country would not be burdened with a high interest rate of more than six percent.