The government was observing prudent spending, within limits, and was certainly not extravagant in its expenditure, said Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“We cannot be hasty to spend and be drawn into spending.
“If we borrow, it must be for productive investment,” said Najib who is also the finance minister.
Speaking at the Ministry of Finance’s Excellence Service Award ceremony in Putrajaya today, he said the government would ensure the nation’s debt level remained below 55%.
In 2016, Najib said Malaysia’s national’s debt level stood at 52.6%.
According to the premier, the economic fundamentals were very good and positive as the government had taken brave and appropriate steps in this regard.
He said the government was not choosing to merely rake in popularity but was willing to sacrifice in the interest of the country over the short and long term.
“If we are like the opposition, we do not need to embrace reality, rather, can promise anything for the sake of gaining support. But they may not be able to do it if they come into power.
“As the government, we cannot adopt that attitude. Any decision we take must be practical and be held accountable. The decisions we take must be right, or else the result will have a negative impact on the economy and the people,” he added.
Najib said the right steps and views of the government had enabled it to manage the country’s economy and finances well, despite the prevailing uncertainty and unpredictability.
“This year, we will work towards further enhancing the performance of the economy to register growth of between 4.3% and 4.8%. At the same time, we see that when we promised fiscal consolidation in 2009, the deficit was at 6.7% and last year, at 3.1%.
“At the same time, we see that when we promised fiscal consolidation in 2009, the deficit was at 6.7% and last year, at 3.1%.
“This year, we hope to achieve 3%. So, little by little, we are heading towards a balanced budget and will reach our objectives,” said Najib.
Elaborating further, the prime minister said the government had taken steps such as implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
This is despite some quarters saying it would make the government unpopular.
“I was willing to do it as the prime minister as I believed the GST was a right move for the economy.
“When oil prices dropped, we lost RM35 billion in national revenue and if not for the GST, the economy would have wilted.
“But, with the GST this year, we expect revenue in the range of RM45 billion which means we can ensure the country’s revenue is at a good level and undertake all services planned for the people,” he added.
On the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC), Najib said there was no country in the world that had a similar service that ensured receiving a passport within one hour or treatment at a 1Malaysia Klinik for just RM1 payment.
“Believe that the country is on the right track and in actively pursuing our aspirations, we can achieve what we hope for.
“I want a big leap towards placing Malaysia among the top 20 countries globally by 2050. This is our aspiration, hope and dream, and I believe we can achieve it,’ he added.
Najib also shared two principles of AliBaba founder Jack Ma, namely “big results’ and “superefficient”, to help Malaysia make a quantum leap in economic growth.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary General Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah in his speech said 6.9 million applications had been approved for the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) 2017.
He said the pioneer My Beautiful New Home (My BN Home) project in Lekir, Sitiawan, had achieved good progress with a unit being completed in nine days and 50 units being projected to be ready in three months.
“The Finance Ministry has identified new UTC’s to be established in Perlis, Negeri Sembilan, Penang and Selangor,” he added. – Bernama