PETALING JAYA: A vast majority of Malaysians will continue to face great hardship due to the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic if the government does not reinstate a blanket loan moratorium, says the National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE).
NUBE secretary-general J Solomon said this reality seems to have eluded the finance ministry and banks who continue to give the excuse that the current targeted loan moratorium, which comes with a slew of conditions, is adequate.
“This notion is a complete fallacy and cannot be further than the truth. Tens of thousands of low paid workers, while still clinging on to their jobs, cannot afford to resume repaying their loans, as their household income has dropped for various reasons.
“Sadly, these workers do not qualify for the targeted moratorium and are likely to default on their loans unless the government has a change of heart and hears their plea for help,” he said in a strongly-worded statement today.
He added that the reimposition of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Sabah has also compounded the woes of Malaysians from the low-income groups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Klang Valley.
“The government must not wait for the repercussions of the CMCO to take its toll on the millions of people who require help immediately,” he said, adding any delay in providing assistance will “further fuel public anger”.
“After all, the reason for this surge in cases and its subsequent move to impose the CMCO is linked to the snap Sabah state elections which was triggered by an attempted power grab.”
According to Solomon, an extension of the blanket moratorium for three months will not burden banks.
“This moratorium will only mean deferred payments for loans of about RM6 billion. This is a fraction of the RM32 billion after tax profit banks are expected to reap for 2019.
“Furthermore, the RM6 billion is not a loss incurred by the banks, but merely a delay in collecting the amount from customers once the economy is on better footing and a blanket moratorium is no longer needed,” he said.
Solomon called for the government to get the relevant feedback from the people if they still don’t see the need for the moratorium.
“If there is any doubt of the need for a blanket moratorium, the government must urgently commission a transparent survey to gauge public sentiment, especially among low wage earners.
“NUBE is confident there will be widespread support for the extension as the Covid-19 economic fallout has adversely impacted the lives of all Malaysians, more so those in the B40 and M40 groups as well as SMEs,” he said.
He added that NUBE members too are facing hardships because despite having a job, their household income has been affected with their family members being retrenched or having their salaries cut.
Solomon urged the government and banks to act urgently because the hundreds of positive cases being reported daily shows the situation is only going to get worse.