May 17, 2018 / 10:16 AM / a year ago

Mahathir warns many figures on Malaysia's financial position are false

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is seen on video conference screen during the Wall Street Journal CEO Conference in Tokyo, Japan May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday many of the figures recording the country’s financial position may be false, but he did not offer any evidence or say which data he was referring to.

“Regarding the numbers indicating our financial position, I realise many of these figures are false,” he told a news conference. “So we need to determine how much of it is inaccurate.”

Mahathir made the comment in response to a request for a fresh forecast on Malaysia’s economic growth. But it was not clear what numbers he was referring to.

His spokesman did not immediately respond to further queries.

The central bank, finance ministry and the Department of Statistics - all of which report data - did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mahathir won a historic election last week, defeating Najib Razak and his Barisan Nasional coalition, which had governed the country over 60 years.

The country’s central bank on Thursday reported that economic growth slowed to 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018, compared with a year earlier, leaving the new government with the task of turning around an economy that has decelerated for two consecutive quarters.

In his first week back in office, Mahathir has announced moves to effectively scrap a goods and services tax - a significant source of government revenue - introduced by Najib, reintroduce a sales tax, and review various projects signed off by the previous government.

Reporting by Liz Lee, Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Praveen Menon and Neil Fullick

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