KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The government must urgently reconsider its decision not to extend the loan repayment moratorium as there was a growing threat of yet another wave of Covid-19 infections, said Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The opposite to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin cited the worrying rise in Covid-19 cases and clusters in recent weeks, saying this suggested that Malaysians — especially lower income groups — would likely face economic hardships again soon.
“I note with alarm the total number of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia has now surpassed the 11,000 mark, while the number of active cases has now breached the 1,000 mark for the first time since mid-June.
“We could be witnessing the start of a second wave, with at least 20 active clusters nationwide. This does not bode well for the economy in the short term and it means that we must continue to actively support lower income individuals and families who will be disproportionately affected,” Anwar said in a statement.
Reiterating his disappointment with the government’s refusal to extend the moratorium, he said a worse abdication of responsibility came in the form of allowing banks to individually decide on targeted assistance for borrowers.
Anwar noted that while banks said they have contacted over 1.4 million borrowers to check if they needed help with their finances, this only represented 17 per cent of the country’s 8.3 million borrowers.
The banking industry previously disclosed that just 380,000 of those contacted sought assistance with their repayments for when the moratorium expires on September 30.
Anwar, a former finance minister, also said banks should release information on their liquidity levels and profits to make it easier for legislators to consider and formulate possible responses.
“I am disappointed that the government has decided not to extend the loan moratorium for an additional three months.
“While a full blanket moratorium may not be necessary, failure to take the lead in imposing a targeted moratorium is a dereliction of responsibility and a serious lapse of leadership, leaving borrowers at the behest of banks,” he added.
After what appeared to be a successful containment of Covid-19, Malaysia has suddenly witnessed a steadily increasing rate of infection within the country, starting with a spike of 182 cases on September 11.
While it took from August 8 until September 16 for Malaysia to go from 9,000 to 10,000 cases, the country added the next thousand cases in just two weeks.
Yesterday, Health director-general Tan Sr Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Covid-19 could no longer be considered to be restricted to Sabah as the trend of infections showed that it was already within the Malaysian community.
During the wave of Covid-19 infections in March, the government imposed a movement control order that brought the country’s economy to a near-halt.
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