Moratorium not the best solution, says BNM


POLITICAL parties including lawmakers had urged the government to consider an automatic loan moratorium by banks due to the implementation of the third Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0) nationwide.

The announcement of the MCO 3.0 came in a statement by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday, two months after he said there would be no more “blanket” MCOs.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh was among the first to call for the moratorium, raising concerns on businesses’ fate.

“Lockdown until June 7 must come with an automatic moratorium. Businesses are dying,” she said on her official Twitter account.

MCO 3.0 comes after a spike in cases around the country with daily infections regularly breaching the 3,000 mark over the past week.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman expressed similar views, stating that a loan moratorium was needed immediately, as businesses had borne the brunt of MCO’s impacts and were in need of help.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said in a virtual press conference yesterday that a blanket automatic loan moratorium will not be the best solution as unlike previous MCOs, as most economic sectors are allowed to operate this time around.

“More importantly, they are getting help that reflects their financial circumstances, so a (blanket) loan moratorium is not the best solution for all borrowers,” she said.

She, however, advised borrowers requiring financial assistance to speak to their respective banks in order to get the most suitable assistance for their needs.

The negative impact of the current MCO would not be as critical as the first MCO imposed in March last year, in which the country lost an estimated RM2.4 billion a day throughout the two-month period.

Public Investment Bank Bhd estimated that the MCO 3.0 will cost the country’s economy RM300 million daily.

“Given the similarities, MCO 3.0 could also see a daily hit of about RM300 million to the economy, particularly from restrictions on contact-sensitive businesses which will be a drag on the services sector,” it said in a note yesterday.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii said the restrictions that come with the MCO do not hurt the people and economy, but rather the uncertainties.

“I think businesses and the public are suffering more from the flip-flops, inconsistencies and last-minute announcements rather than the MCO itself. If it was properly planned, announced and executed in the first place, we won’t be in such a position,” he said.

DAP assistant national publicity secretary Zairil Khir Johari said Putrajaya should mandate an automatic loan moratorium by banks for three months and offer cash aid to Malaysians during the latest iteration of the MCO.

He said the small and medium enterprise sector, as well as youths, desperately need the money as they are some of the poorer and most affected demographics.

During the MCO 1.0, the government, through BNM, offered a six-month moratorium for individual and business loans, which ended on Sept 30, 2020.

The blanket moratorium did not continue, but banks offered targeted assistance on a case-by-case basis as more economic sectors were reopened after MCO 1.0 ended in May last year.