KUALA LUMPUR: Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, who is now part of the five-member Team of Eminent Persons under the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, has assured investors and fund managers alike, that they are going to address all the problems affecting the economy and not going to increase the debts.
“There is no reason to put the economy into a state that is much worse (than before),” he told Bernama after chairing a meeting late on Saturday night (May 12) with other members of the team.
He was responding a question on the case of jitters by investors over the impact on the ringgit and stock market following the surprise win by PH in the 14th general election which saw the fall of the ruling Barisan Nasional.
He pointed out that investors were more concerned on the proposed removal of Goods and Services Tax (GST) which they said would likely impact government revenue and in turn widen the fiscal deficit.
“We are not going to increase the debt anymore. We are not stupid. This is a lot of speculation, unnecessary fear. This is a normal reaction when a new government takes over,” he said.
Daim assured investors that the team has experts who could handle this issue. “For 57 years there was no GST and there was no problem,” he pointed out.
The important thing is to get rid of corruption, he stressed.
Present at the meeting were three other members of the team, namely former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas president and chief executive officer Mohd Hassan Marican and economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok was not present as he was overseas.
Daim said the five-member team was briefed and deliberated on current economic situation, the national debt, the ringgit, GST, and fuel subsidies, amongst others.
“These are the major things. We are making the recommendations to the government. At the end they will decide,” he said.
Daim said the council would be calling the Public Private Partnership Unit (under the Prime Minister’s Department), related ministries and government-linked companies (GLCs) to brief them on various mega projects and the governance of GLCs, including Lembaga Tabung Haji, Majlis Amanah Rakyat and the Federal Land Development Authority.
“As for 1MDB, there will a special task force, I have identify those who can assist the probe into 1MDB. It would be under the purview of the team which will submit the report to the government,” Daim said.
He said another pertinent issue that needed to be addressed quickly was the oversupply of office space and housing.
“Another example is the cost of security for schools. It cost more than the assets they’re guarding,” he pointed out.
Newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had on Saturday announced the setting up of the team which, among others, will assist the new government in implementing its 100-day promises as spelled out in PH’s manifesto.
Daim said the team would hold meetings daily for 100 days, and in fact on some days, it would be a few times a day.
“I want this to finish this within 100 days. After that I want to sleep,” he quipped.