As loan moratorium expires, Anwar urges Putrajaya to consider 'targeted' extension for lower-income
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Wednesday (Sep 30) urged the government to consider implementing a more targeted loan moratorium, which focuses on lower-income households and small businesses.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Mar 25 the implementation of a six-month moratorium for all loans, which ends on Sep 30.
“We have yet to see any meaningful recovery of the salaries of lower-income families or steady revenues for small businesses in Malaysia,” Mr Anwar said in a press statement.
He expressed his disappointment that the government had decided not to extend the moratorium for an additional three months.
“While a full blanket moratorium may not be necessary, failure to take the lead in imposing a targeted moratorium is a dereliction of responsibility and a serious lapse of leadership,” Mr Anwar said.
In late July, Mr Muhyiddin announced that the moratorium would be extended on a targeted basis for another three months for those who had lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and were still jobless, while those who had endured pay cuts would benefit from lower monthly installments.
More recently on Sep 23, Mr Muhyiddin announced that 93 per cent of applications for moratorium extensions and targeted bank assistance have been approved.
When delivering the “Kita Prihatin” special address, the prime minister said banking institutions had held discussions with over 1.4 million borrowers, and 380,000 had confirmed that they were really in need of assistance as of Sep 11.
“While I applaud the collective effort of the banks, I note there are in total an estimated 8.3 million borrowers in Malaysia,” said Mr Anwar on Wednesday.
“In other words, the banks had only managed to speak to 17 per cent of their borrowers,” the opposition leader said, adding this indicated the government and banks were still in the dark on overall borrower sentiment.
Mr Anwar said he was committed to the policy of a resilient banking system, but it was crucial for Malaysia’s banking sector to be more transparent and accountable.
“The government and banks must provide greater transparency on the latest liquidity and profitability data of the sector to Parliament, so that legislators can consider and formulate an appropriate and holistic policy response,” he said.
Earlier this month, Minister for Finance Tengku Zafrul Aziz said the blanket loan repayment moratorium was valued at RM89.6 billion (US$21.55 billion) as of Sep 11.
Businesses benefited from the moratorium to the tune of RM31.4 billion, while RM48.2 benefitted individuals, the minister said.