SERDANG, Selangor: Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday (Mar 25) that the country will recover from its administrative and financial problems left behind by the previous government in three years time.
The current Pakatan Harapan (PH) has many plans which could overcome those problems, said Mahathir, who was speaking at the Congress of Unions of Employees in Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) premier assembly.
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“God willing, if the situation in the country remains peaceful without any unlawful incidents in the next three years, we can bring about the recovery,” said Mahathir.
Mahathir led the PH coalition to a shock victory in a general election last May, ending the 61-year rule of the incumbent Barisan Nasional party.
However, efforts to revive the country only through political power was not enough, he added.
“It is of utmost importance for all of you to understand our history and know what is being done by this new government so that you can extend close cooperation to the government in the interests of the country, so that our country can once again be on the road to becoming a developed nation in 2025," he said.
Calling on civil servants to be patient, Mahathir said the cooperation of civil servants was necessary for them to understand the problems the country faced - including the RM1 trillion (US$245 billion) debt.
“That’s why we were forced to cancel mega programmes that the previous government initiated, scheduled or implemented.
"We have had to reduce the expenditure on these huge projects. If we were to terminate the old contracts, we would have to pay compensation,” he said.
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Mahathir said a portion of the country’s income had to be used to pay the country’s debt, which caused the government to pay less attention to national development.
“I hope we can be patient. If we cooperate in an atmosphere of peace and calm, then we can restore the financial position and develop our country.
“It is not easy to pay off a RM1 trillion debt. All the people, including government servants, have to tighten our belts a little so that we can reduce the normal expenses and pay the debt,” said Mahathir.
"God willing, we will be able to settle our debts and, after that, the government income will rise and can be used to help with the cost of living of the people, especially those working with the government,” he said.
Mahathir said a high income would mean nothing if the prices of goods went up more than the wage increase.
“For us, what is more important is to provide a salary that can buy more than before … it is for this reason that the present government is reviewing the country’s financial procedures,” he said.
Mahathir added that he was confident the civil servants will be with the government in helping to restore the country’s financial position so that the ringgit will be stronger.
“We believe that to reduce the cost of living and raise the purchasing power, we need to raise the efficiency and discipline of the members of the present government administration,” he said.