By P PREM KUMAR & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By BERNAMA
The National Higher Education Fund Corp’s (PTPTN) loan repayment collection this year might not match the RM4 billion that was collected in the previous year.
Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching (picture) said the fund will most likely fall short from last year’s performance, due to the poor collection recorded year-to-date.
She said the drop in PTPTN loan repayments this year cannot be attributed solely on Pakatan Harapan’s decision to remove borrowers from the immigration blacklist.
Teo told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s decision to extend the grace period for fresh graduates to repay the loan from six months to 12 months had also contributed to the RM500 million shortfall.
Due to these factors, loan repayments declined from RM351 million in January 2017 to RM297 million in January 2018, and RM384 million in March last year to RM293 million this year.
“I don’t deny that there was a reduction in repayments after borrowers were removed from the blacklist.
“But you cannot blame Pakatan Harapan, or the act to remove people from the blacklist as the sole reason for the drop. If you consider this as a wrong decision, the move made by the former PM was also a mistake,” she said.
She was responding to a question by Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin who had asked about the amount of loan repayments received after the blacklist was removed.
Teo said from June to September, the amount of loans paid back stood at RM817.56 million, compared to RM1.34 billion in the same period last year.
Khairy argued that errant borrowers should have been blacklisted, as it is seen as a reason for the shortfall in loan repayments.
He also asked on the status of the new PTPTN repayment policy that will help borro- wers, especially those earning below RM4,000 a month.
Teo said a holistic study on a new PTPTN mechanism was completed on Sept 26 and it is now awaiting feedback from several government agencies, after which it would be tabled to the Cabinet.
She said an announcement on the new direction for PTPTN would be made after a final decision is reached.
She also refuted claims that Pakatan Harapan had promised those earning below RM4,000 would not have to repay their loans.
“Our stance on this has always been clear. A loan must be paid back. But, it must be done according to capacity.
“In our manifesto, we said those earning below RM4,000 would be exempted from repayments because they are unable to pay back. We never said they do not have to pay back at all,” she said.