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Banks urged to extend moratorium for another 3 months

28 Jun 2020 / 13:45 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Banks gave been urged to consider extending their ongoing loan moratorium for another three months to help workers who have lost their jobs or suffered substantial salary reductions.

Although no official figures were forthcoming, many elected representatives believe that up to one million of the Malaysian working population were affected by the economic ill effects of the Covid - 19 global pandemic.

Former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa said it is only fair that the lending institutions consider an extension of the moratorium as retrenchments and wage cuts are the realities out there.

Despite the government’s intervention to offer wage subsidies and cash flow injections for the B40 low middle income group, employers continue to struggle despite the reopening of the economy, he noted in an interview.

“So the outcome is lay - offs or wage reductions being pursued by employers, but unlike in previous downturns, the job market in Malaysia is also now facing a crunch as jobs are limited due to the migration towards digitalisation,“ said Mujahid.

Technology does not mean an automatic creation of jobs; it is more of a niche and highly specialised fields, but it does not cater to the semi - skilled workers.

So the mismatching pf jobs continues to prevail, Mujahid said.

The Parit Buntar MP said the moratorium extension can be done on a case-by-case basis.

“Only those who provide evidence of their hardships need help. It should not be across the board.”

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz was quoted as saying that when the six - month moratorium ends in September, this year, he has left it to the banks to decide if they are willing to extend it or pursue other options.

The country’s biggest bank, Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) group chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Farid Alias does not think there is a need for the moratorium to be extended.

“None of us knows how long or how deep the impact from Covid-19 is going to be. So due to that, we need the time to digest all the information and we also need this time to talk to individual customers so that we can work out a plan such as to repackage their facilities so that they can come out from the moratorium in a stronger position. This was the whole intention of a moratorium so that we can face this crisis from a position of strength,“ he was quoted as saying.

Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong Khan Lee said the healthcare crisis leaves the financiers in a no - win situation but it is better to offer a rempirary reprieve now rather than to allow bad debt to disrupt the banking system.

“Here the innovation ability of the government is needed; and policy makers must also be agile or the non - performing loans will skyrocket in the country,“ he said.

The government can come in with a subsidy formula to ease the burden faced by the consumers, he said, adding that market intervention is needed to curb the recent rise in living costs due to the disruption of the global supply chain.

Ong said that the moratorium needs extension as it is evident that many people continue to struggle despite the reopening of the economy.

Jelutong MP R. S. N. Rayer said that the extension should be supported by both the public and private sectors but it should only be done on an individual basis.

Only those who continue to struggle should be allowed to participate in the extension of the moratorium, he said.

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