Banks to decide on loan moratorium extension

Going forward, we may focus on the targeted groups who need help, finance minister says

by NUR HANANI AZMAN/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

ANY extension on the loan moratorium, which ends in September, will be decided by the banks, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said.

Tengku Zafrul acknowledged that there have been many requests from the public for the moratorium to be extended.

However, the minister said the banks cannot be forced to do so but he assured the public that the ministry is actively engaging with the banks over the issue, as this is really up to the banks whether they can or cannot (do so).

“But in my personal view, we ought to help the people who need help. The current moratorium is helping everyone.

Tengku Zafrul says public transport ridership has gone up by 40% from the figure before MCO due to the overwhelming public response to the My30 travel pass – pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

“Going forward, I think the best way is we focus on the targeted groups who need help,” he told a press conference after a working visit to Prasarana Malaysia Bhd’s headquarters yesterday.

Bank Negara Malaysia has imposed a six-month loan and financing payments moratorium from April to September 2020 to ease the burden of consumers and businesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the measures announced was an automatic six-month loan moratorium to all individuals and small and medium enterprise borrowers, excluding credit card balances which can be converted to term loans of not more than three years with an interest cap of 13% per annum.

Tengku Zafrul advised borrowers to engage with their banks early if they feel they need to reschedule their loan repayments particularly those who have lost their jobs or have their pay reduced, as financial planning is very important.

“The Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency also has started engaging more borrowers. I think it’s better to start planning now,” he added.

Commenting on a larger Malaysia’s GDP contraction forecast in 2020 by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Tengku Zafrul said Malaysia’s GDP for the third quarter (3Q) and 4Q of 2020 would depend on how the country addresses the pandemic.

“Despite our increasing deficit because we want to help people, we have to lower it when the economy is good in the long term.

“In terms of expenditure, our current account is positive. We do not use any borrowings. So, even when our fiscal is in deficit, our current account is not in deficit,” he said.

Separately, Tengku Zafrul said more than 62,000 My30 travel passes have been sold since the initiative was introduced on June 15.

He said in just two weeks, the number of public transport ridership has increased by 40% from the figures before the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Before MCO, the number of public transport passengers of light rapid transit (LRT), mass rapid transit (MRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), monorail and stage bus under RapidKL recorded an average of 1.1 million passengers.

Under the My30 travel pass, commuters of the LRT, MRT, BRT, monorail and stage buses will get to enjoy unlimited travel for 30 days, starting June 15.

The government has allocated RM200 million for the My30 limitless travel passes.

Meanwhile, Prasarana has agreed to provide an allocation of RM5 million for small maintenance works to be offered to contractors in the G1 class.

Its group COO (operations), Muhammad Nizam Alias said among the identified works are road pavement work, painting of the station’s exterior and interior and roofing and tile repair works.

As for the current status of the LRT Line 3’s construction, Muhammad Nizam said the project resumed after being temporarily halted during the MCO implementation.

“As of March, the project reached a 30% completion rate,” he said.