No extension to Covid-19 loan moratorium? A Warisan victory in Sabah may pressure Putrajaya, Guan Eng suggests

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Lim Guan Eng predicts Putrajaya may be pressured into extending the Covid-19 loan moratorium by a Warisan Plus win in the Sabah state election. — Bernama file pic
Lim Guan Eng predicts Putrajaya may be pressured into extending the Covid-19 loan moratorium by a Warisan Plus win in the Sabah state election. — Bernama file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Putrajaya may consider extending the Covid-19 loan moratorium should Warisan Plus win the much anticipated Sabah state election, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng suggested today.

In a statement, Lim lamented the reluctance of the Perikatan Nasional administration to extend the loan moratorium despite many economic barometers showing that ordinary Malaysians and even certain economic sectors are in dire need of such extension.

“DAP regrets the stubborn refusal by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to heed the calls of ordinary Malaysians and the business community to extend the moratorium of bank loans by another six months, when it expires on 30 September,’’ he said.

“Since the federal government refuses to listen, then outside pressure is needed. Perhaps only a Warisan Plus victory in the upcoming Sabah state election can compel Tan Sri Muhyiddin to change his mind and extend the moratorium on bank loans by another six months,’’ he added.

Lim then cited statements from the Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) who had pleaded for the extension as the construction industry had incurred losses of RM11.6 billion every month since the movement control order (MCO) began on March 18.

“Of these, 29 per cent of the losses were due to the unemployment of industry workers as construction projects had to be halted.

“What is significant is that MBAM’s plea for the extension of the moratorium for another half a year is defensive and a cry for help, to help protect not promote one of the most important economic sectors in the country,’’ he said.

Lim added that the value of the loan repayment moratorium by financial institutions since April 1 is estimated at RM85.8 billion, of which RM30 billion had benefited the business sector while RM 55.8 billion goes to individuals.

“Whilst the banking industry will incur losses of RM6.4 billion for another six month extension, this can be easily borne by the banking industry that recorded profits of RM32 billion in 2019,’’ he said.

Citing the latest unemployment figures from the department of statistics, Lim added that by not extending the loan, the government “will only increase” the hardship of one million unemployed Malaysian workers.

Last month, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stated that the recovery MCO would be extended until December 31, 2020.

However prior to that, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said borrowers must begin servicing their loans from October as the repayment moratorium will end as scheduled in September.

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