PUTRAJAYA, 17 Sept 2008: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today swapped the finance and defence portfolios between them.
With this, Abdullah now handles the Defence Ministry while Najib takes care of the Finance Ministry.
Both leaders also stay committed to the transfer of power in 2010 as planned, which means that Abdullah will defend his Umno president post and Najib, the deputy president post, in the December party elections.
Najib taking over the finance portfolio was part of the power transition process between the two leaders which includes giving Najib more roles, said Abdullah at a news conference at his office here today, with Najib also present.
Abdullah said the finance portolio was important, taking into consideration the current economic situation in the country and uncertain world economic climate.
He believed that Najib would handle the new portfolio well, especially in ensuring that the economy remained strong to face the challenges.
Abdullah as finance minister now, Najib could play a more important role when in New York for the United Nations General Assembly next week.
This was because Najib would get to meet foreign investors and fund managers while in New York in his new capacity, he added.
The prime minister also announced that Najib would now assume the post of deputy chairman of Khazanah Nasional, the investment holding arm of the government, in line with his position as finance minister. The post was previously held by Abdullah.
Meanwhile, Najib said Abdullah’s decision to appoint him finance minister showed his sincerity that he (Najib) would be his successor.
"This also reflects the prime minister’s confidence in me, and I will always discuss and refer matters to him, particularly on the economy, its direction and priorities, so that the policies appear clearer and precise," he said.
Abdullah, when asked about the drop in the world crude oil price, said: "The more it comes down, the better."
The world crude oil price dropped to US$92 a barrel yesterday.
However, Abdullah said the price decline would also cause a drop in Petronas’ revenue.
Asked whether the petrol and diesel pump prices would be reduced, he said: "Wait lah…next time." – Bernama