PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian government has set up a trust fund called Tabung Harapan Malaysia or Hope Fund for members of the public to donate money to help the new government to repay the country's debt.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced this on Wednesday (May 30), saying that the fund is necessary to ensure that the donations from patriotic Malaysians would reach the Ministry of Finance.
“Many Malaysians, after knowing the bad state of the country’s financial position, are willing to make donations to the government. We welcome their patriotic attitude and express our gratitude to them,” he said at a press conference after chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Dr Mahathir said that the account number for people to channel their donations would be announced soon.
The new government recently announced that the national debt amounted to RM1 trillion (US$250.8 billion), or 80 per cent of GDP, prompting many Malaysians to take to social media to express their willingness to make donations to help the government reduce the debt.
A private fundraising initiative "Please Help Malaysia!" has received more than US$3,500 of donations on website GoGetFunding.
Dr Mahathir has made it a priority to cut Malaysia's debts and liabilities since he mounted a surprise win over the previous administration led by Najib Razak in the May 9 general election.
While the new government has pledged to review mega projects, axe some government agencies and cut ministers' salaries, it is also withdrawing a goods and services tax this week which some analysts said will hurt government revenues.