KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 4): The National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE) has urged banks to reinstate the blanket moratorium on loan repayments for its members and other low wage earners in the country, as the current targeted approach does not address the realities of their financial plight in mitigating the Covid-19 economic downturn.
In a statement today, NUBE secretary general J. Solomon said the government must immediately get banks to expand the blanket moratorium for at least until the end of the year for all those in the lower income groups, especially the B40 and M40, as well as businesses reeling from the economic slump.
Solomon said NUBE is the largest union in the Banking Sector whose members are mainly non executives.
“Many of our members urgently need a further respite from loan repayments.
“However, they and many other Bank Customers do not qualify for the targeted moratorium adopted by banks on the misconception that they did not lose their jobs or suffered pay cuts, therefore are unaffected by the economic downturn,” he said.
He said most of the NUBE members are in the frontline and need to take extra precautions which will incur additional cost to protect themselves and their families from the pandemic and the impact.
“Extra cost for them would be purchasing masks for themselves and their families, sanitisers, quality food and vitamins to boost their immunity and comply with other new norms-related expenses as a result of social distancing,” he said.
Solomon said the situation rings true not just for NUBE members but also applies to thousands of low income households across Malaysia.
He said job losses and pay cuts to one or more members of such families pose a tremendous burden on their ability to service loans and at the same time, have enough money to put food on the table.
“NUBE feedback shows that while its members largely kept their jobs, many of them have either spouses or children and in some cases, both, who were laid off or forced to take pay cuts, thereby reducing the household income and the ability to sustain themselves,” he said.
Solomon said the government and banks must address the plight of the families whose livelihoods have been disrupted.
“The best way to do that is to reinstate the blanket moratorium on housing, vehicle and personal loans for the B40 and M40 families by at least three months and carry out a review on its necessity periodically, based on the prevailing economic and employment situation in the country.
“Forcing these financially hit families including those of NUBE members to resume servicing their loans from this month, is tantamount to ignoring the hardship and suffering on the ground — something which the targeted moratorium with its slew of conditions attached, has failed to address.
“There should not be any accrued or compound interest charged to borrowers benefiting from the extension of the repayment moratorium,” he said.