Help house owners to repay loans

Irene Chang

KUCHING: The authorities should step in and assist Sarawakians who are unable to make repayments of their housing loans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said since the onset of the pandemic, the B40 and M40 found it increasingly difficult to pay their housing loan as they lack sufficient financial savings.

She said, according to the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), there is an increase in the number of properties sold off in Sarawak in 2020 by homeowners due to financial hardships.

“Even though a blanket loan moratorium was imposed by the federal government last year to assist households and SMEs, the moratorium has since expired on Sept 30, 2020.

“And even though banks have been offering targeted repayment assistance, there are still many Sarawakians who are facing the housing loan repayment crisis caused by either loss of employment or reduced income.

“In fact, many of these people have reached a stage where they are extremely stressed out from fear of eventually losing their homes due to their inability to pay the loan instalments,” she said today (Feb 4).

Chang said the government could step in and subsidise a portion of the housing loan repayments in cases where the defaulters were genuinely affected.

She said with the government’s financial position, it could afford to come up with a mechanism to help genuine cases of homeowners from the B40 and M40 groups to pay their loan instalments.

“In order to ensure that only the genuine cases are assisted, a mechanism should be put in place for these applicants to prove their loss of employment or of reduced income through their EPF and Socso payments.

“Given that the economy is not expected to recover any time soon, now is the time for the auhtorities to consider utilising part of the huge state reserve to help the people to protect them from losing their homes,” she said.