URUS opens for application next month to ease B50 financials

Its benefits include interest waiver for 3 months, reduction in instalment payments for up to 24 months and reduction in interest rates

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE

THE Financial Management and Resilience Programme (URUS) complements the government’s initiatives in helping the most affected groups in line with the reopening of the economy, national recovery and measures to reduce the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the economy, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) said.

Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said the ministry welcomes URUS, a comprehensive loan repayment assistance programme jointly designed by the banking sector and the Credit Counseling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK), as announced by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Oct 13.

“In total, the banks are estimated to have allocated RM1 billion to finance the cost of this programme. Applications for this programme will be open from Nov 15, 2021, to Jan 31, 2022.

“URUS would be managed by AKPK, which would also provide personal financial plan assistance, as well as access to financial management education packages to borrowers,” he said in a statement yesterday.

URUS is offered to affected the B50 (bottom 50% of income earners) borrowers with a gross household income of less than RM5,880 a month. Its benefits include interest waiver for three months, reduction in instalment payments for a period of up to 24 months and reduction in interest rates.

During this period, customers with unsecured personal financing and credit cards can also benefit from reduced interest rates to help ease their financial burden.

Tengku Zafrul said URUS will assist borrowers comprehensively, ensuring those in need will get government support consistent with the spirit of the Malaysian Family.

For borrowers who are not eligible for assistance under the URUS programme but still in dire need of loan repayment assistance, they could still directly contact their respective banks to discuss loan repayment options that suit their financial situation.

He said the government is also looking at other methods to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which will be unveiled in Budget 2022.

“To assist the cashflow of the affected SME segment, BNM has allocated more than RM7 billion through (various) financing facilities, which are being channelled through commercial banks as loans for working capital, capital expenditure and loan refinancing.

“To further facilitate loans from banks, the government through Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd has provided an additional guarantee of RM20 billion under the Pemulih assistance package to guarantee 80% of the loans taken by SMEs.”

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said eligible borrowers who wish to apply for URUS can approach their banks starting Nov 15, 2021, to Jan 31, 2022.

“BNM has been working with AKPK to put in place a holistic debt management and financial planning solution. The aim is to provide appropriate support to borrowers so that they not only meet their loan obligations but importantly, return to a firmer financial footing. This will strengthen the financial resilience of borrowers in the longer term,” said governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus.

For SMEs, further enhancements to BNM’s Fund for SMEs will be announced during the upcoming Budget 2022. These enhancements to the fund will help businesses manage cashflows and reposition themselves with the re-opening of the economy, the central bank said.

Efforts are also underway to develop alternative debt-equity and blended financing initiatives to ensure SMEs have access to a wider range of appropriate financing options across their growth cycle.

“This will be important to lower the leverage and strengthen the long-term resilience and capacity of SMEs, and increase their contribution to the economy,” added Nor Shamsiah.

Meanwhile, Pakatan Harapan (PH) described the cancellation of accrued interest payment for the loan as a victory for the people.

The Opposition coalition, however, regretted that the PM did not recognise the support provided for B50 as part of the memorandum of understanding signed by himself with the main leadership of PH on Sept 13.

“Initially, the government did not agree with PH’s proposal to provide interest payment exemption to borrowers from the group B50. To ensure that this policy can be implemented, the main leadership of PH has held a series of meetings not only with the MoF, but also with the CEOs of commercial banks.

“Although at first there were concerns on the part of the banks, after a series of meetings and the views of the PH leadership were clearly communicated, the PM has agreed with our position and finally this policy can be implemented.”