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Malaysia raises money from citizens to pay off $251bn national debt

Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Wednesday the government will set up a trust fund to let the public contribute to easing the country’s huge national debt.

Mahathir’s government last week revealed that the national debt and liabilities exceed $250.6 billion or 80% of Malaysia’s gross domestic product, after taking into account government guarantees and other payments.

It has blamed economic mismanagement and corruption under former scandal-tainted leader Najib Razak and the long-ruling coalition that was ousted by a surprise defeat in a May 9 national election.

“There are many Malaysians who were willing to donate to the government when they found out how bad our country’s financial situation is. We welcome their patriotic stand,” Mahathir said Wednesday.

The finance ministry said in a statement that the “Malaysia Hope Fund” will provide a systematic and transparent platform to manage all public donations.

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