(File pix) Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications deputy director Eric See-To said when Dr. Mahathir first became prime minister, the debt-to-GDP ratio was only 44 percent.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's government debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was worse during Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad's tenure as prime minister.

A low debt-to-GDP ratio indicates an economy that produces and sells goods and services sufficient to pay back debts without incurring further debt.

Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications deputy director Eric See-To said when Dr. Mahathir first became prime minister, the debt-to-GDP ratio was only 44 percent.

But in a spate of only five years during Mahathir's premiership, the ratio had risen to 103.4 percent.

Dr Mahathir was Malaysia's fourth prime minister between 1981 to 2003.

"Dr. Mahathir and the Opposition often criticized that the government debt is too high under Datuk Seri Najib Razak's government and that the nation would go bankrupt.

See-To said that at the end of the third quarter this year, the debt-to-GDP ratio had reduced to 50.7 percent.

"Dr. Mahathir supporters should ask how is it then that Malaysia can go bankrupt at (a debt-to-GDP ratio) of 50.7 percent when the nation did not go bankrupt at 103.4 percent," he said in a posting on his Facebook page today.

See-To explained that debt must be viewed in comparison to the annual income.

Citing an example, he said an individual who owes RM22,000 but with an annual income of only RM20,000 is less secure compared to an individual with RM50,000 debt but has an income of RM100,000 a year.

"At a glance, it may seem that the second individual's debt of RM50,000 is more than two-fold compared to the debt of the first individual but the second individual is more secure," he said.

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