PUTRAJAYA: National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) borrowers earning less than RM4,000 a month will have to continue paying their loans for now until the Government has worked out a way to fulfil its manifesto pledge.
This is due to the debt situation left behind by the previous government.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the Pakatan Harapan government had to defer its “promise” as the country was saddled with “more debt than what has been revealed by the previous government”.
“The ministry needs time to find the best way to fulfil this promise within the 100 days,” he told reporters after presenting offer letters to SPM school leavers to public universities and matriculation centres at his office yesterday.
Now in his second week in office, Dr Maszlee said: “We now know, after it was revealed by the Finance Ministry, that our nation’s debt is very bad.”
He said a committee had been set up to discuss and finalise the details on how to fulfil Pakatan’s promise.
When the Pakatan manifesto was created, it was based on the financial figures reported by Barisan Nasional last year, Dr Maszlee said.
He said Pakatan would not go back on its promise to the rakyat but had to delay it.
“It will still be done within the 100 days,” he added.
Last week, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the country’s debt stood at RM1 trillion.
“We hope PTPTN borrowers can continue repaying their loans as repaying a loan is part of our moral responsibilities,” said Dr Maszlee.
In the past, borrowers were required to start paying back their loans six months after graduation.
Other measures to encourage more people to settle their loans include special discounts, as announced in the 2013 and 2015 Budgets.
PTPTN borrowers who obtained a bachelor’s degree with first-class honours are eligible for loan repayment exemption.
Dr Maszlee said the Government was working with the Immigration Department to remove PTPTN loan defaulters from the travel blacklist.
He said this exercise was being carried out in stages beginning May 24. It will continue until June 15.
PTPTN chief executive officer Wan Ahmad Wan Yusuf said that of the one million borrowers blacklisted, about 655,000 have started repaying their loans.
The remaining borrowers will gradually be removed from the blacklist.
Wan Ahmad also said borrowers would continue to be listed under the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) and that the discounts for repayment, as announced in Budget 2018, would remain.
Dr Maszlee also said a Manifesto Implementation Main Taskforce had been set up within the ministry to look into fulfilling all promises made in Pakatan’s manifesto.
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