Mahathir: Malaysia May Introduce New Taxes, Sell Assets to Pay Debt

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Malaysia may introduce new taxes and sell assets such as land to pay down debt, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday, as his administration struggles with liabilities of around 1 trillion ringgit ($240.67 billion).

Mahathir, who unexpectedly won a general election in May, has blamed the previous administration of Najib Razak for taking the country into such heavy debt, including that of the 1MDB state fund, which is the subject of corruption and money laundering investigations in Malaysia and other countries.

The government is also looking for new sources of revenue to make up the shortfall it is expected to face after scrapping an unpopular goods and services tax just weeks after the Mahathir-led Alliance of Hope coalition was elected to government.

“We may have to devise new taxes in order to have the money to pay our debts,” Mahathir told an investor conference.

“The other thing we can do is to sell our assets. Land is one of them… Beyond that we may have to sell some of our valuable assets in order to raise funds to pay the debts.”

He did not identify or elaborate on what these assets would be.

Last month, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Malaysia will consider a combination of new debt issuance and asset sales to meet its short-term financing needs.

($1 = 4.1550 ringgit)

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