PM: New taxes, assets disposal to pay debts

Govt identifies parcels of land and strategic assets to be sold to local firms in its bid to generate cash and spur economic activities


THE government may introduce new tax mechanisms and sell off its strategic assets to raise funds to repay large borrowings left behind by the previous administration.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the current government has identified parcels of land and strategic assets to be sold to local firms in its bid to generate cash and spur economic activities driven by Malaysian companies.

He also said there is a need for the government to revise new taxes in order to have bigger funds to pay off debts related to the troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

“It was suggested to have new taxes, but that may not be welcomed by the people…we may have to revise new taxes in order to have more money to pay our debts.

“Of course, the other thing that we can do (among others) is to sell some of our valuable assets in order to generate fund to pay the debts,” he told some 2,000 strong crowd at the “Malaysia: A New Dawn 2018 Investor Conference” in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said the Pakatan Harapan government does not encourage the disposal of strategic land parcels to foreigners, which was a practice under the previous Barisan Nasional administration.

“We can still sell land (plots) to locals for them to develop settlements and property projects,” he said, stressing that the current administration will be able to restore the federal government’s financial health and implement institutional reforms.

Dr Mahathir added that the country’s experience in formulating survival mechanisms during the 1997 Asian financial crisis will be adequate for the government to overcome the debt crisis.

“In time, we will restore the finances and rebuild government machineries which have been destroyed by the previous government.

“We feel we can do that because Malaysians have proven that they can go through a lot of economic problems and yet they survived. For instance, the 1997 crisis…we found our own solution and we recovered.

“In the last (1997) crisis, ringgit was devalued, which had made us weak economically. However, this time around, the currency remains strong and acceptable globally, but we have to find money to pay huge debts,” he elaborated.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said virtual currencies could play an important role in global trading, and this would pose a threat to countries like Malaysia.

He said virtual currencies would disrupt markets, especially developed ones, and that would affect Malaysia which is a trade-reliant economy.

“Malaysia is a trading nation and as a trading nation, we are affected by whatever happens to our market.

“Now, we have a new form of money that I have failed to understand. Virtual money, which has appreciated in value by many folds, will definitely disrupt markets and it will affect us,” he added.