KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12, 2014:

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today lambasted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s “absence” in the face of an impending financial crisis.

“We are heading for an economic crisis with a double whammy — declining international crude oil prices coupled with the depreciation of the ringgit at levels unseen since the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

“All this while he (Najib) is being the proverbial ‘ostrich in the sand’ by hiding Malaysia’s financial situation,” he told a press conference today.

Anwar’s arch nemesis, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had voiced similar concerns recently.

“The additional revenue of RM25 billion announced in the recent budget, is at serious risk of being wiped off.

“It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the government will struggle to reduce the level of national deficit to 3% of the Gross Domestic Product for the year ahead,” said Anwar.

This, added to the plunging value of the ringgit against the US dollar, would result in the people facing a bleak future of higher prices of food products, he added.

“Since almost 90% of our basic foodstuff are imported, any withdrawal of food subsidies will exert additional burden on the people, who are already saddled with the rise in the cost of living.

“The prices of crude palm oil, rubber and tin have also declined drastically, causing further hardship on the people even before factoring the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for 2015,” said Anwar.

He said Malaysia’s sovereignty rating was already at risk of an imminent downgrade caused by the reduction of domestic economic activity.

“Where is the leadership in all this? There has not been one statement forthcoming from the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister (Najib), alluding to the current state of our economy, let alone the problems the people are already facing,” said Anwar.

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