BY KS Mak
RECENTLY, the issue of bank loan moratorium has resurfaced, following the lockdown announcement to curb the spread of Covid-19. There are mounting calls for the bank loan moratorium to be automatically extended to all borrowers, not just the B40 group, as announced by the government under the Pemerkasa Plus stimulus package early this month.
I understand the rationale in wanting the moratorium extended to the M40 group. Many have also lost their jobs or had their incomes slashed following the economic troubles brought about by the pandemic.
Being in the M40 group, I should know because I was one of them. When I was let go from my company last November year, I too was at a loss. My first reaction was how was I going to pay for my housing and car loan? Not to mention to support my young family.
At that time, Bank Negara’s automatic loan moratorium had just expired in September 2020. I picked up the phone and called up my bank asking to restructure my loan. After a few hiccups and submitting the necessary documents and correspondences, my application to restructure the loan was approved.
My point is this: being denied an automatic loan moratorium is not the end of the world. One just needs to take the initiative to call up the bank asking for an extension of the moratorium or a restructuring of the loan. According to the Association of Banks, over 90 per cent of such requests are approved.
With banks continuing to earn handsome returns despite the pandemic, I believe many of them have the buffer to provide flexibility to retail borrowers, if only for goodwill purposes. Just pick up the phone and call the banks, guys!
I was lucky that I landed a new job not too long after and I continue to service my loans like before since. From a financial standpoint, the faster I settle the debt, the less interest I have to pay.
To me, the question of being denied an automatic loan moratorium is not an issue. Please don’t make it into one.
Batu Kawan, Penang