Moratorium extension on bank loans a hot topic


Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM and TARRENCE TAN

CALLS for an extension on the moratorium for bank loans to be included in Budget 2021 are growing louder from both sides of the political divide.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Barisan Nasional backbenchers club chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak have asked for the budget to be tweaked.

Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) also suggested an automatic payment deferral should be given to those with loans of RM500,000 or less for another three to six months if the pandemic continues.

“The figure can be adjusted to help more people, ” he said when debating the Supply Bill 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The senior Umno lawmaker also suggested the withdrawal period for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Account 1 should be shortened from RM500 per month over a 12-month to RM1,500 per month over four months.

Mohamad Sabu (PH-Kota Raja) also supported the moratorium extension proposal, saying the government should focus on helping small and medium enterprises affected by the pandemic.

“Many SMEs cannot afford to pay salaries. The government should help by giving RM1,200 a month until the pandemic ends, ” he said.Mohamad said both Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) and him made a stand to oppose the RM85.5mil allocated for the Department of Special Affairs (Jasa).

Instead, he said the allocation should be channelled to the public.

When tabling Budget 2021 last Friday, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said banks would extend targeted loan repayment assistance to B40 borrowers and micro enterprises, with loans of up to RM150,000, for three months starting December.

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