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Pakatan Proven Wrong on Excessive Debt Level Claims

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RafiziRamliNot that long ago, Rafizi Ramli took to the stage against the Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Choice remarked at the time that the debate was an impressive display of articulate answers and substantive talk – from both sides. And it was a refreshing change from the usual sniping and politics of negativity that has seemingly become a part of the Opposition's pre-election staple.

However, we did have one bone to pick with the PKR chief strategist when he took to The Malaysian Insider shortly after the debate to speculate about the state of Malaysia's coffers.

He misleadingly bestowed upon the country an "excessively high level" of debt, painting a doomsday scenario in which the country was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Well, on the back of new figures released this week, Rafizi may wish to reconsider his remarks.

Malaysia's national debt is now rated at just 30.2 percent of gross domestic product, the Dewan Negara was told on Tuesday.

In today's climate, that's the sort of figure that nations like the United States, Australia and just about any country in the EU would covet.

The Deputy Finance Minister, Senator Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai said that the low external debt "was in tandem with the Government's policy to give priority to domestic borrowing as the market had high liquidity, the cost of borrowing was lower, and to minimize foreign exchange risk."

In simplistic terms – this means that the Government is taking every care to manage Malaysian finances securely for the long-term growth of the country and to repay its debts well on time.

Indeed Malaysia's debt repayment has been impressive – the country fully repaid its loans from the World Bank last year, and a major portion of the loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has also been paid off.

In fact, the outstanding balance as of December 2011 was just $124 million from loans amounting to $1.285 billion – a clear example of the Government's fiscal prudence.

Trade too is on a high. Last year we saw record trade reaching RM 1.3 trillion and in the first quarter of 2012, Malaysia recorded a surplus of RM 29.78 billion – with exports 4.4 percent higher than the first quarter of 2011 and imports up 6.9 percent.

For the Malaysian people, the economy will be among the key issues at GE13. But clearly these aren't the sorts of figures that Pakatan will be pushing - even the mighty duo of Rafizi and Anwar will have difficulty spinning those numbers.

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