KUALA LUMPUR: There is currently no need to increase the national statutory debt ceiling to more than 65 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), said Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.

He said the government had already raised the statutory debt limit twice, from 55 per cent to 60 per cent of the GDP during the COVID-19 crisis, and raised it again to 65 per cent last year.

"The government's debt is currently at RM1.5 trillion, including contingent liability, but the actual debt is at RM1.2 trillion, which is about 61 per cent of the GDP," he said to reporters after the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Malaysian Small Entrepreneurs Chamber of Commerce and Uniti Asia Group of Business here today.

The MoU was signed in recognition of entrepreneurs who constantly strive to realise the goal of a borderless business world.

Ahmad said the collaboration also aims to enhance the image of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the pursuit of business opportunities in the Asian region and carrying out business activities as well as providing marketing information.

On another note, he said Budget 2023 will also look into the well-being of MSMEs and SMEs as they are the driving force for the nation's economy.

"We will continue organising focus groups to get more views from associations, companies and relevant government agencies through a series of budget dialogues," he said.

Ahmad added that starting today until Feb 10, he will be chairing 18 budget dialogues covering various topics, including youth development, food security and inclusive rural development.

"Based on these dialogues, the officers from the budget department will summarise the views which will be included in Budget 2023.

"As mentioned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the highlights of the budget presentation presented by the previous Minister of Finance will be partially included, but of course, there are new things, such as the Malaysia Madani concept," he said.