We could bring back travel ban on defaulters, warns PTPTN chief

Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) says it will raise a proposal to reintroduce the travel ban for defaulters if the people are in favour of it.

However, PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan said Putrajaya would have the final say on whether to impose the ban, which he added was one of the most effective means of getting defaulters to service their loans.

“If the people are for it, we will bring it up to the Cabinet, but the decision is not in our hands,” he said when launching a public consultation initiative at the PTPTN headquarters here today.

The public consultation, in the form of an online survey, will be held from May 16 to June 13 to obtain feedback on ideas for a new affordable study loan repayment scheme and measures to improve PTPTN’s loan sustainability.

In March, Wan Saiful said the corporation was not planning to reintroduce the travel ban, although the idea had been floated as a means to deal with defaulters.

In his speech today, Wan Saiful said the move to do away with the travel ban had drawn flak from various quarters but had benefitted some 400,000 borrowers.

He said some critics felt that PTPTN was giving special treatment to the defaulters.

“But it is a reflection of our seriousness in keeping to our promise of ensuring that the youth are not burdened by the cost of living,” he said.

Earlier, PTPTN deputy CEO (policy and operations) Mastura Mohd Khalid said the travel ban imposed by the government last year had been effective as it saw some 684,000 borrowers pay back a total of RM2 billion.

She said about a million defaulters were barred from travelling.

“More than two-thirds of PTPTN defaulters started repaying their loans after we imposed the travel ban,” she said, adding that 332,000 had yet to pay up.

“But we had to do away with it as it created inconveniences.”

Mastura added that PTPTN is considering other measures to get people to service their debts, based on feedback following discussions with stakeholders. These include barring defaulters from renewing their passports, driving licences and road tax.

Another suggestion is for PTPTN to turn down applications from the next-of-kin of defaulters.

Other ideas open to the public based on discussions with stakeholders include a mandatory salary deduction, implementing a guarantor system, changing the repayment system for new borrowers, and increasing the current 1% “ujrah” for student loans for new borrowers.