KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 23): Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today issued a statement mocking his predecessor and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for what he called Najib's apparent "wrongful" assumption that the total amount in the government's Consolidated Fund was available for use.
"Datuk Seri Najib has failed the accounting test by confusing between the Consolidated Fund with Consolidated Revenue Account. Legally, the government can only use the Consolidated Revenue account for its operating expenditures," Lim said.
He said Najib appears to have difficulty distinguishing the difference between the funds, as the latter had claimed that as at Dec 31, 2017, the federal government had RM18.06 billion to spend, versus Lim's revelation of RM11.86 billion.
The Consolidated Fund, Lim explained, refers to the umbrella fund that are made up of three accounts: Consolidated Revenue Account, Consolidated Loan Account, and Consolidated Trust Account.
According to Lim, the Consolidated Fund position as at Dec 31, 2017 was RM42.18 billion (audited), which dwindled to RM35.50 bilion (unaudited) as at April 30, 2018. The deterioration was due mostly to the slump in the Consolidated Revenue Account, which shrank by RM11.41 billion to RM450 million, from RM11.86 billion.
This significant fall in the Consolidated Revenue Account, Lim said, was due to excessive spending for the four months from January to April this year, which Lim alleged was to help Barisan Nasional win at the May 9 general election.
"Datuk Seri Najib has claimed that he was no longer the Finance Minister when the unaudited monthly financial statements for 30 April 2018 were prepared and he was shocked to learn that the BN government has only left RM450 million in the Consolidated Revenue Account for the new Pakatan Harapan government. This is not true.
"Datuk Seri Najib should not feign ignorance of the distressed state of fiscal position by insisting that BN (Barisan Nasional) had left tens of billions of ringgit to the PH new government when there was only RM450 million. Imagine having RM450 million to spend when our emoluments (salaries) and pension payments alone amounted to more than RM8 billion a month? Or is Datuk Seri Najib still at a loss to differentiate or understand what constitutes a Consolidated Revenue Account despite being Finance Minister for 10 years?" Lim questioned.
Lim also slammed Najib for questioning the April unaudited financial statements as well as indirectly blaming Lim for manipulating the figures.
"As the former finance minister, Datuk Seri Najib should know very well that the monthly financial statements of the Federal Government are independently prepared by the Accountant General Department... Datuk Seri Najib again failed to realise that the new finance minister has not been sworn in yet when the unaudited monthly financial statements for 30 April 2018 were prepared. Datuk Seri Najib should instead explain the drastic drop of RM11.41 billion or 96% in the Consolidated Revenue Account over the four-month period from 31 December 2017 to 30 April 2018, leaving the Pakatan Harapan new government with only RM450 million," Lim added.
Lim was responding to Najib's Facebook post on Sept 5, when the latter said it was "impossible" that the Consolidated Revenue Account had dwindled to RM450 million. Najib also said it was always kept between RM18 billion to RM20 billion each month, and that government officers in their cash flow management would ensure that there would be enough funds to act as "buffer" for at least two months worth of salaries and pensions.
Najib also noted that the financial statements were prepared on the 15th of every month. "For example for the month of April, the accounts were readied on May 15, when the government has been taken over by PH (Pakatan Harapan). So, I have also never seen the statements for the month of April and was 'shocked' by Lim Guan Eng's accusation that the balance of the Consolidated Revenue Account as at end-April was only RM450 million."