Automatic moratorium on loans a welcome relief

KUCHING: The public have welcomed the six-month automatic moratorium on bank loans for individual borrowers, including those in the B40, M40, and T20 groups, as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro-entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, announced the moratorium on June 28 as part of the National People’s Wellbeing and Economic Recovery Package (Pemulih).

Borrowers only need to apply to the bank and approval will be granted automatically without any conditions effective July.

The Pemulih package is also offered to affected SMEs operators, subject to bank evaluation and approval whereby the borrower only need to apply and sign an agreement to amend the loan conditions.

The people have generally applauded the government’s move as a welcome relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Roslina Muran

Roslina Muran, a civil servant, said the unconditional moratorium has helped her cope with the difficult period brought on by the movement control order (MCO).

“The moratorium application process is fairly simple, and it is approved in a short period of time,” she noted.

She said the money saved by deferring payments on the loans could be put to better use such as investing in savings, apart from spending on necessities.

Sally Drahman

Catering operator Sally Drahman shared that her business was affected during the MCO due to lack of bookings as a result of office closures and the prohibition of physical meetings and programmes, as well as organising of social events.

She said her declining income during MCO, difficulty in repaying loans to the bank on time, and the late payment process for catering services were among the reasons she decided to apply for the moratorium.

Sally said she was grateful for the moratorium even though it is only for a short period of time.

Saiful Firdaus Sulaiman

Similarly, SME entrepreneur Saiful Firdaus Sulaiman, the owner of Sambal Pak Leman and Gula Apong Sarawak, expressed his gratitude to the government for the Pemulih aid package.

He claimed that since the pandemic, his company’s revenue had dropped by more than 80 percent as a result of not being able to operate during the MCO period. He said since 2020, he had to lay off his employees albeit having to pay half their salary to help them survive during the pandemic.

“The moratorium is the best option for SMEs to restructure their strategy to redevelop the affected businesses as we will have less loan repayment commitments.

“We can leverage our revolving capital even a little bit, to implement appropriate strategies to tide us during the pandemic,” he added.

Saiful believed the government had made the right decision by granting the moratorium adding the decision would enable SMEs to continue operating during the pandemic.  

Application for the moratorium opened on July 7 and can be submitted using web forms or automated emails available on the bank’s website. The public can also contact the bank or visit the nearest bank offices to submit their moratorium applications.