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Malaysia economic minister Azmin Ali trades barbs with Najib Razak over Khazanah losses

Malaysia economic minister Azmin Ali trades barbs with Najib Razak over Khazanah losses

File photos of Malaysia Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and former prime minister Najib Razak. (Photos: Reuters, Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali on Tuesday (Mar 6) traded barbs with former prime minister Najib Razak on social media, after it was announced that sovereign wealth fund Khazanah had incurred more than RM6 billion (US$1.46 billion) in losses.

Najib had hit out at Khazanah's performance, pointing out that the fund was profitable before the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government took over. 

Mr Azmin defended the numbers in a series of tweets, asking that there be no blaming as "every cloud has a silver lining". 

“Khazanah profit and loss: Trouble these days is some politicos, often failed ministers, babble first and check later. In the end, it becomes a case of spitting into the sky only to have it fall back on your face,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

The minister said poor decisions and a large investment in Malaysia Airlines during the Najib administration had forced Khazanah to bear the brunt of the losses.

The losses incurred were a “result of a review of the assets and investments made before the new government took over”, he stated.

“Every cloud has a silver lining. Look at 2018 as a clean-up of the problem assets left behind in the portfolio.

“Having taken these measures, I dare say that Khazanah will return to profitability in 2019," he added. 

Earlier in the day, it was announced that Khazanah had incurred a pre-tax loss of RM6 billion in 2018.

Khazanah’s managing director Shahril Ridza Ridzuan reportedly said profitability was affected due to fewer divestments, reduced dividend income and higher impairments during a period of transition in an unfavourable market.

READ: Asia's first Legoland may be sold as Khazanah reports weak performance

Responding to the announcement, Najib wrote on Facebook that Khazanah never suffered losses with him at the helm.

He said during his tenure as prime minister, the net asset value of Khazanah went up RM82.3 billion, from RM33.7 billion at the end of 2008 to RM116 billion at the end of 2017.

Since PH took over, the value of Khazanah fell by RM25 billion to RM91 billion, he added on Tuesday.

"RM25 billion isn't a small amount. It can pay nearly all 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) debts or half of the ECRL (East Coast Rail Link) cost, which is RM55 billion.”

On Wednesday, Najib said in another post: "RM25 billion disappeared in just a year. He (Mr Azmin) can't ask people to forget about it just like that."

Source: CNA/aw(hs)

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