PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has criticised the Pakatan Harapan-led government for blaming him for the drop in National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan repayments.
In a Facebook post, Najib said it was ironic that Pakatan Harapan had vowed to abolish PTPTN before the May 9 general election and even incited students to not repay their loans but was now blaming him when students refused to pay back their education loans.
“Now, they have become calculative over PTPTN funds. They blame me because there are students who haven’t repaid their loans six months after graduating.
“That’s true, I admit it.
“I approved the policy that these students need to only start repaying their loans 13 months after graduating.”
Najib said he was only helping the students to adjust to working life before beginning to service their education loans. He asked whether it was wrong for him to help the youths by doing so.
“If this is Najib’s fault, I accept the blame.
“But what are those who are so comfortable in Putrajaya doing to help these students now?”
Najib was responding to Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching’s remarks that it was unfair to blame PH alone for the reduction in PTPTN loan repayments.
In the Dewan Rakyat, Teo (PH-Kulai) said it was wrong to attribute the drop solely to the decision to remove 429,945 borrowers from the immigration travel blacklist.
She said Najib’s decision to extend the grace period for loan repayments was also a factor.
As a result, she said, loan repayments had dropped from RM351 million in January last year to RM297 million in January this year, and RM384 million in March last year to RM293 million this March.
Former PTPTN chairman Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, in a statement, said the government should consider reintroducing the policy of putting those who didn’t repay their loans back on the immigration blacklist as it was crucial to increase the collection of loan repayments.
He added that until April 2018, some RM1.9 billion had been recovered and this amount could fund many more new students.
“I predict that the PTPTN loan repayments will not reach RM4 billion because of PH’s new policy against blacklisting. Perhaps it will only be RM2.7 billion.”
He also said PH also needed to decide whether it will implement a policy allowing borrowers who earn less than RM4,000 to defer their loan repayments as this will have far-reaching implications.