PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's Hope Fund, or Tabung Harapan Malaysia will officially close next week, seven months after it was set up to solicit public contributions in order to reduce the country's RM1 trillion (US$239 billion) national debt.
In a statement on Sunday (Dec 23), finance minister Lim Guan Eng said the fund stood at just over RM199 million.
"The fund is the result of initiatives by individuals, organisations, non-governmental organisations and fixed deposit interest as administered by the Accountant-General’s Department," he said.
He said all parties wishing to contribute before the fund closes on Dec 31 should do so as soon as possible.
"The government will ensure that this donation will be used to settle the national debt," Mr Lim said, adding that every cent donated is appreciated.
He said he was touched by the people who are concerned and united in helping the government settle the national debt issue.
"Although the RM1 trillion debt surpasses the proceeds collected, the government appreciates the people's solidarity in addressing the national debt,” he said.
"The government hopes for this spirit not to fade and can be maintained forever."
The finance minister also thanked the king, Sultan Muhammad V for his contribution to the THM.
In August, the king cancelled an official birthday ceremony in conjunction with his birthday, as well as a royal tea reception. The funds for both events were channeled to the fund.
Mr Lim said the National Audit Department will audit the fund accounts to ensure that it is managed with integrity.
The finance ministry will also appoint an external firm to audit the fund’s accounts in line with Section 7 of the Audit Act 1957.