KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday (May 30) that the government will need about three years to reduce the national debt from 80 per cent of the gross domestic product to the ceiling level of 54 per cent.
The ruling Pakatan Harapan government has managed to reduce the debt of more than RM1 trillion to its current level despite facing challenges after taking over from the previous administration, he said.
"We have tough jobs simply because the last government left behind a lot of unpleasant legacies, for example, they borrowed too much money far beyond the ceiling determined by the government," Dr Mahathir said in a speech at a meeting of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo, where he is on a three-day working visit.
"We need to pay our debt and reduce (it) to a reasonable level so it doesn't swallow up all the revenue that we make in the process of governing the country."
Dr Mahathir also revealed that Malaysia has been attracting more interest from foreign investors, a result of the nation's growing economy. This shows that the government is on the right track to revive the country, he said.
"Some foreign investors are pulling out from the stock market but that is all right. In any case, many countries are experiencing a problem because of the US-China trade war, (and) we are also affected but not as bad as other countries," he said.
The prime minister added that Malaysia needed "true reports" on its situation to help it recover.
"Negative reports about Malaysia is not something that helps us to recover and we need to have true reports, not anything unduly favouring Malaysia but a true report on what is happening in Malaysia," he said.