PAC notes A-G’s alarm about growing debt charges, nearly RM100b from total 2020 borrowings

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Public Accounts Committee chairman Wong Kah Woh addresses reporters during a press conference at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur October 28, 2021. ―  Bernama pic
Public Accounts Committee chairman Wong Kah Woh addresses reporters during a press conference at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur October 28, 2021. ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 ― The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) raised the alarm today about the auditor-general’s (A-G) concern over the government’s growing debt charges, totalling some RM100 billion or half of all borrowings made last year.

The statement was issued after a briefing on the 2020 federal statement of account with A-G Datuk Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid this morning.

PAC chairman Wong Kah Woh said that a certificate that carried the “emphasis of matter” had been issued over various findings, including the worrying level of debt repayment. The A-G had said the debt repayment sum is likely to grow in the coming years.

“PAC took note that RM98.058 billion or 50.4 per cent of the total RM194.555 billion of new government borrowings was used just for the purpose of paying the principal debt for 2020,” the committee said.

“The amount had risen by RM15.335 billion compared to RM82.37 billion in 2019.”

PAC also noted that close to a fourth of 2020 gross borrowings meant for the Development Funds Act was used to pay liabilities, operating expenditures and other guarantees.

Total 2020 gross borrowings for the fund amounted to RM48.571 billion. Only RM37.656 billion, or 77 per cent, was used for development, the A-G revealed.

“This makes for an unhealthy situation and prevents development funding from being optimised,” Wong remarked.

PAC is expected to hold proceedings to scrutinise several issues raised in the briefing soon.

Among them are the findings that up to RM622 million had been poorly managed, leaked or resulted in losses for the public.

From the total, a sum of RM499.18 million of “disorganised” payments were made towards the National Security Council and the Trunk Radio Network Project overseen by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

Earlier today, the A-G’s office issued a statement noting poor financial management on the ruling coalition’s part, citing a case where RM66.87 million in dividends from government investments had been placed in its development fund instead of the consolidated revenue account.

This contravened normal practices and differed to how the 2018 dividends were accounted for, the A-G said.

The Report on the Federal Government’s Financial Statement for 2019 was released in Parliament today.

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