A shift to banks’ targeted assistance was a good call

There is a need for banks to provide a buffer should more assistance be required going forward, in the midst of recovering from the crisis.

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Published by The Malaysian Insight & The Star, mentioned by MIEA, image from The Edge Markets.

The anxiety amongst the rakyat on whether the banks will extend the six-month loan moratorium after September in the midst of the recovery period was answered by the prime minister (PM) in his announcement yesterday, with more targeted and additional measures.

Just to recap the specifics on the moratorium, they are as follows:

  1. A three-month extension of the loan moratorium for those who lost their jobs this year as well as for those who remain unemployed; and
  2. Reduction in monthly instalments for those who experience pay-cuts, in proportion to the reduction in salary and subject to the type of financing.

Besides that, banks have also stated their commitment to assist the borrowers (individuals and SMEs) by only requiring the payment of interest for a period that has been fixed, extending the payment period to reduce monthly instalments and other relief measures until borrowers’ financial conditions become stable.

This announcement was indeed heading towards the right direction and welcomed as it is meant for Malaysians who are in relatively more unfortunate situations while considering those who are trying to stabilise their living conditions.

To show how much the loan moratorium has provided huge reliefs for many individuals and businesses, as of July 20, over 7.7 million individual borrowers (93% of the total) have benefited from the measure worth RM38.3 billion.

On the other hand, 243,000 SMEs (95% of the total) have also utilised the loan moratorium worth RM20.7 billion, based on the PM’s speech text.

In total, the value of loan moratorium, which has been utilised by the individuals as well as the SMEs, is RM59 billion.

Notably, Malaysia was said to be one of the earliest in the implementation of automatic loan moratorium compared to other countries that did not, such as Singapore, Thailand, the UK, Italy, the US and Canada according to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz in Parliament.

So, it can be seen that this loan moratorium has managed to help the rakyat weather through the crisis in the short term.

Despite the short-term opportunity given by the banks for borrowers to save by participating in the moratorium, not all decided to opt in.

Therefore, the number of individual borrowers opting out rose from 331,000 in April to 601,000 in July. For SMEs, the number of non-participants jumped from 5,000 to 13,000.

The increase in figures were in tandem with the government’s decision to reopen economic sectors beginning early May which certainly helped to restart businesses that have been disrupted during the first few phases of the movement-control order (MCO).

This was then followed by supportive measures in the short-term economic recovery plan (Penjana) that was announced on June 5, such as the extension of the Wage Subsidy Programme and hiring incentives.

In a way, these moves have helped several parts of the economy to recover, which explains the opting out from the moratorium.

Nonetheless, there remains businesses and people struggling. As mentioned in my previous article, there are some statistics to support this statement.

In May, the overall unemployment rate escalated slightly to 5.3% compared with 5% in April as the number of unemployed went up by 47,300 to 826,100 persons.

If you look at the more updated figures, based on the Employment Insurance System (EIS) unemployment benefit claims, there was a total of 62,247 employment losses as of the third week of July.

The Edge also reported that a total of 4,542 applications to cease business operations were processed by the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) during the MCO taking place between April 1 and July 19.

As we are still trying to recover from the unprecedented crisis, there seems to be a crucial need for banks to provide a buffer should more assistance be required in the future.

Prior to this latest announcement, the finance minister had already stated that banks faced losses worth RM1.06 billion per month during the moratorium period, which will bring about to a total loss of RM6.4 billion by the end of the measure.

So, the losses experienced by the banks explain the more targeted measures post-September in comparison to a blanket loan moratorium starting from April until September.

Again, the efforts of the government in addressing the loan moratorium appear positive as it was one of the emerging issues and suggestions raised by participants in the focus group discussion of EMIR Research for its upcoming quarterly poll.

Nur Sofea Hasmira Azahar is Research Analyst at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

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Diterbitkan oleh Malaysiakini & Berita Harian.

Kebimbangan di kalangan rakyat berkenaan sama ada moratorium enam bulan bagi pinjaman akan dilanjutkan oleh pihak industri perbankan selepas September telah terjawab apabila perdana menteri pada Rabu (29 Jun) mengumumkan lanjutan moratorium dan bantuan bersasar.

Rumusan ringkas mengenai lanjutan moratorium adalah seperti berikut:

  • Lanjutan moratorium selama 3 bulan bagi mereka yang kehilangan pekerjaan tahun ini dan bagi mereka yang masih menganggur; dan
  • Pengurangan bayaran ansuran bulanan selaras dengan kadar pengurangan gaji bagi individu yang mengalami potongan gaji tertakluk kepada jenis pinjaman.

Selain itu, pihak bank juga telah menyatakan komitmen untuk membantu para peminjam (individu dan PKS) dengan hanya membayar faedah untuk jangka masa yang ditetapkan, memanjangkan tempoh keseluruhan pembayaran bagi mengurangkan bayaran ansuran bulanan dan juga pelepasan lain sehingga kedudukan kewangan peminjam menjadi stabil.

Pengumuman ini sememangnya keputusan yang tepat dan dialu-alukan kerana ia bertujuan mengurangkan beban rakyat Malaysia yang berada dalam keadaan kewangan yang tidak kukuh di samping mengambil kira keadaan mereka yang cuba untuk menstabilkan kehidupan mereka.

Bagi menunjukkan bagaimana moratorium tersebut telah banyak membantu individu dan perniagaan, sehingga 20 Julai, lebih 7.7 juta peminjam individu (93 peratus jumlah keseluruhan) telah mendapat manfaatnya yang bernilai RM38.3 bilion.

Untuk PKS pula, 243,000 (95 peratus jumlah keseluruhan) telah menggunakan moratorium bernilai RM20.7 bilion, berdasarkan teks ucapan PM.

Secara keseluruhan, nilai moratorium yang telah dimanfaatkan oleh peminjam individu dan PKS berjumlah RM59 bilion.

Menurut Menteri Kewangan, Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz semasa sidang parlimen, Malaysia merupakan salah sebuah negara terawal melaksanakan moratorium pinjaman automatik berbanding dengan negara lain yang tidak berbuat demikian seperti Singapura, Thailand, UK, Itali, Amerika Syarikat dan Kanada.

Bantuan jangka pendek

Jadi, kita dapat lihat moratorium ini sedikit sebanyak berjaya membantu rakyat dalam menghadapi krisis dalam jangka pendek.

Walaupun peluang jangka pendek telah diberikan bank kepada rakyat agar mereka dapat membuat simpanan dengan menyertai moratorium ini, tidak semua mengambil keputusan untuk turut serta.

Lantaran itu, jumlah peminjam individu yang memilih untuk tidak menyertai moratorium meningkat daripada 331,000 pada April kepada 601,000 pada Julai. Bagi PKS pula, jumlah peniaga yang tidak menyertai moratorium meningkat daripada 5,000 kepada 13,000.

Kenaikan dalam angka tersebut adalah seiring dengan keputusan pihak kerajaan untuk membuka semula sektor ekonomi pada awal Mei. Langkah ini telah membantu para peniaga untuk beroperasi semula selepas perniagaan mereka terjejas di peringkat awal Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP).

Ini diikuti pula bantuan melalui pelan pemulihan ekonomi jangka pendek (Penjana) yang diumumkan pada 5 Jun seperti lanjutan Program Subsidi Upah dan insentif pengambilan pekerja.

Dasar-dasar ini telah membantu dalam pemulihan sebahagian ekonomi negara kita. Justeru, hal ini menjelaskan keputusan peminjam individu dan PKS untuk tidak menyertai moratorium.

Namun, masih ada perniagaan dan individu yang belum pulih daripada krisis ekonomi ini dan masih terbeban. Seperti yang ditulis dalam artikel saya sebelum ini, terdapat beberapa statistik yang boleh menyokong kenyataan ini.

Pada Mei, kadar pengangguran secara keseluruhan meningkat kepada 5.3 peratus berbanding 5 peratus pada April bersamaan kenaikan pengangguran sebanyak 47,300 kepada 826,100 orang.

Jika kita lihat statistik yang terbaru, berdasarkan tuntutan faedah Sistem Insuran Pekerjaan (SIP), angka kehilangan pekerjaan sudah mencecah 62,247 pada minggu ketiga dalam bulan Julai.

Tambahan pula, The Edge melaporkan terdapat 4,542 permohonan untuk menghentikan operasi perniagaan yang telah diproses oleh Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) semasa PKP antara 1 April hingga 19 Julai.

Sediakan penimbal

Dalam usaha untuk cuba pulih daripada krisis yang belum pernah terjadi sebelum ini, bank perlu lebih awal menyediakan penimbal sekiranya terdapat lebih banyak bantuan yang diperlukan pada masa hadapan.

Sebelum ini, menteri kewangan telah menyatakan bank mengalami kerugian RM1.06 bilion setiap bulan sepanjang tempoh moratorium yang akan membawa kepada jumlah kerugian bernilai RM6.4 bilion pada akhir September.

Jadi, kerugian yang dialami bank telah menjelaskan keputusan kerajaan dan pihak bank melanjutkan moratorium hanya kepada golongan sasar selepas September berbanding dengan moratorium secara menyeluruh yang berlangsung dari April hingga September.

Usaha kerajaan untuk menangani moratorium pinjaman tampak positif kerana ia merupakan salah satu daripada isu-isu yang dibangkitkan oleh para peserta dalam perbincangan kumpulan fokus untuk kaji selidik suku tahunan EMIR Research yang akan datang.

Nur Sofea Hasmira Azahar merupakan Penganalisis Penyelidik di EMIR Research, sebuah organisasi pemikir bebas yang fokus kepada pencernaan saranan-saranan dasar strategik berteraskan penyelidikan yang terperinci, konsisten dan menyeluruh.

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