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Thursday, April 29, 2021

1MDB’s debts made Covid-19 crisis worse, Mukhriz tells Najib


Mukhriz Mahathir says former prime minister Najib Razak has no moral right to criticise the government and finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz over handling of 1MDB debts.

PETALING JAYA: Pejuang’s Mukhriz Mahathir has hit out at Najib Razak, saying the former prime minister has no moral right to criticise finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz who had complained about 1MDB debts.

Mukhriz agreed with Zafrul that the global financial scandal has put a strain on the country’s finances, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The money could have easily been used to pay the cost of vaccines, he added. However, due to the “plunder”, Mukhriz said the government was forced to incur more debts by borrowing, or digging into the country’s reserves.

“Yet, he (Najib) has the audacity to suggest that money recovered from various so-called 1MDB beneficiaries should be enough to pay off the debt,” he said in a statement.

Mukhriz also slammed the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, saying that despite an unprecedented RM322.5 billion federal budget with parliamentary approval and another RM300 billion under the Emergency Ordinance without parliament’s scrutiny, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin now admits that the government’s coffers are running dry.

“It’s now more difficult to manage this long and painful Covid-19 wave sparked by PN’s forced Sabah elections,” he said.

The son of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad further asked Putrajaya why an additional RM5 billion from the National Trust Fund (KWAN) was needed for the fight against the pandemic, as well as for the country’s immunisation plan.

On April 26, the government had said it had no choice but to do so as its finances are nearing their limit, especially because of the 1MDB scandal.

“This just doesn’t make sense. How is our nation’s financial interest protected when negotiating vaccine terms? We are scraping the bottom of the barrel,” Mukhriz, the Jerlun MP added.

On April 26, Najib said neither the Pakatan Harapan nor Perikatan Nasional government had paid back a single sen of 1MDB’s principal debt of RM32.3 billion despite numerous settlements in which the government collected a total of RM33.4 billion.

He said the money received by the government from refunds and claim settlements should have been enough to cover 1MDB’s principal debt.

Najib was responding to comments by Zafrul that the 1MDB debt was among the reasons the government had to dip into the National Trust Fund to pay for Covid-19 vaccines. - FMT

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