Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has questioned the decision of Putrajaya in allowing licensed moneylenders to operate during the full lockdown.
In a statement today, he asked if moneylenders and credit firms licensed under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government are essential services.
"We don't understand how moneylenders can be seen as (providing) essential service at this time. They are allowed to operate after the National Security Council (NSC) agreed at its meeting. It is now the 13th service sector (to be approved) under the Covid-19 intelligent management system (CIMS 3.0)," he said.
"But many other business segments that are important, including those related to home-based teaching and learning (PdPR), are still banned," he said.
"Secondly, this will exacerbate the bad perception of the way the government is managing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is as though (it is) encouraging people who are in trouble (due to the total lockdown) ... to borrow from the moneylenders," he said.
"... there is no noble justification why these moneylenders, which are re-branded as community credit (firms), can be perceived as 'essential'," he said.
"The people will start to question if this is the level of ability of the Perikatan Nasional government to help those who are suffering. It appears as though (the government) is handing over part of its obligation to the moneylenders, who must be providing timely assistance," he said sarcastically.
"Isn't there a better and safer method for the people to secure loans from government agencies, such as the National Entrepreneur Group Economic Fund (Tekun), among others? Maybe using MyKad alone is enough to get an instant loan," he said.
On June 18, the NSC chaired by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin agreed that community credit companies and moneylenders registered under the Housing and Local Government Ministry be allowed to operate during the full lockdown under Phase 1 of the national recovery plan.