PM says govt will discuss request for automatic loan repayment moratorium

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob. -Bernamapic

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the government will discuss the request for an automatic moratorium for repayment of bank loans to help ease the plight of the rakyat affected by the pandemic.

"The government is aware of the situation faced by the rakyat and will try to assist as best as possible," he said when responding to a supplementary question raised by Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday (Sept 14).

Ahmad noted that household debts had increased by 93.3% and had increased further due to the pandemic.

"Is the government considering implementing a non-accrual moratorium so that they rakyat can repay their house and car loans?" Ahmad asked.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PH-Port Dickson) suggested the injection of an additional RM45bil for Covid-19 relief effort, adding that any implementation of a loan repayment moratorium must be one that is meaningful.

He said that the funds provided through the RM45bil must be carefully monitored to avoid the cash aid given used by recipients to pay off their bank loans.

Anwar raised the issue when asking what was being done by the government to address the decrease in household income by 10.3%.

Ismail Sabri acknowledged that the incidences of poverty had increased to 8.4%, or involving 636,000 individuals and households, last year compared to 5.6% or 405,004 in 2019.

He said this was due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which also saw unemployment increasing by 5.3% in May last year.

To help ease the burden on the rakyat, Ismail Sabri said that eight economic stimulus packages had since been implemented.

Among them, he said was a moratorium on loan repayments benefiting seven million individuals.

He added that the government had also forked out RM3.14bil to provide electricity bills discounts for 8.8 million households and RM106.8mil for 1,121,385 food baskets for distribution to the less fortunate.

Ismail also said that the employment and wage subsidy programme has helped retain some 2.7 million jobs.

However, he noted this were merely short term plans and the government is looking at mid and long terms plans to assist the rakyat.

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