KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA) - The newly set up Team of Eminent Persons meant business and wasted no time as they convened their first meeting soon after the announcement of its formation by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed on Saturday (May 12).
There is no honeymoon period and prolonged post-election euphoria as the government is determined to restore the confidence of the people and investors after Pakatan Harapan's unprecedented win in the 14th general election on May 9.
Chaired by former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, the meeting, which went late into the night on Saturday, was also attended by three other members of the team: former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, former Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican and economist Prof Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
Billionaire tycoon Tan Sri Robert Kuok was not present as he is currently overseas.
Tun Daim assured investors and fund managers that they are going to address all the problems affecting the economy and not going to increase the debts.
"There is no reason to put the economy into a state that is much worse (than before)," he told Bernama after chairing the meeting.
Mr Daim was responding a question on the case of jitters by investors over the impact on the ringgit and stock market following the surprise win by Pakatan Harapan.
He pointed out that investors were more concerned on the proposed removal of Goods and Services Tax (GST) which they said would likely impact government revenue and in turn widen the fiscal deficit.
"We are not going to increase the debt anymore. We are not stupid. This is a lot of speculation, unnecessary fear. This is a normal reaction when a new government takes over," he said.
Mr Daim assured investors that the team has experts who could handle this issue.
"For 57 years there was no GST and there was no problem," he pointed out. The important thing is to get rid of corruption, he stressed.
The team will assist the new government in implementing its 100-day promises as spelled out in Pakatan Harapan's manifesto.
Speaking to Bernama after the meeting, Mr Daim said the five-member team was briefed and deliberated on current economic situation, the national debt, the ringgit, GST and fuel subsidies, among others.
"These are the major things. We are making the recommendations to the government. At the end they will decide," he said.
Mr Daim said the council would be calling the Public Private Partnership Unit, which is under the Prime Minister's Department, related ministries and government-linked companies (GLCs) to brief them on various mega projects and the governance of GLCs, including Lembaga Tabung Haji, Majlis Amanah Rakyat and the Federal Land Development Authority.
"As for 1MDB, there will a special task force, I have identify those who can assist the probe into 1MDB. It would be under the purview of the team which will submit the report to the government," Mr Daim said.
He said another pertinent issue that needed to be addressed quickly was the oversupply of office space and housing.
"Another example is the cost of security for schools. It cost more than the assets they're guarding," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Mr Daim said the team would hold meetings daily for 100 days, and in fact on some days, it would be a few times a day.
"I want this to finish this within 100 days. After that I want to sleep," he quipped.