GOMBAK: Any proposal for a travel ban on study loan defaulters would only add undue pressure on fresh graduates earning only RM1,200 to RM1,400, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said.
“It will be quite hard from them to cope. We need a long-term plan to solve such problems. But for the time being, the consultation sessions with them must continue,” he said.
Syed Saddiq was commenting on calls to reintroduce the travel ban for loan defaulters, if the majority of people are in favour of it.
This was only one of the proposals made to recover outstanding student loans given out by the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN). No decision has yet been made by the Cabinet.
An online survey will be held by PTPTN from May 16 to June 13 to obtain feedback on ideas for a new affordable study loan repayment scheme.
Syed Saddiq said from the very beginning, he had expressed his view that the unemployed should not have to face such harsh actions.
“I have also told Cabinet members and the prime minister that I will not agree to any travel ban being brought back, specifically for fresh graduates and those earning ‘undignified’ salaries,” he told reporters after a forum on mental health at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM).
Syed Saddiq said the relevant ministries were holding discussions to find an effective method for PTPTN to collect debts from defaulters.
Youth activists had previously said a travel ban will rob unemployed graduates of the opportunity to go overseas to look for better-paying jobs.
‘Abolish 1% service fee for loans’
In KOTA KINABALU, Sabah Youth Council permanent chairman Mazlan Joe Manan said blacklisting PTPTN defaulters and reimposing a travel ban on them should be the last resort.
“Blacklisting defaulters will only make life harder for them and more difficult for PTPTN to collect its debts.”
A PTPTN official had said the travel ban, which was lifted in March, was the most effective way to ensure defaulters settled their dues. The official said 332,000 borrowers had yet to settle their debts.
Mazlan said PTPTN should help facilitate borrowers to pay their education loans, find out the reasons why loan repayments are delayed and how it can help borrowers repay the loans.
Mazlan also proposed that PTPTN abolish the 1% service charge imposed on borrowers to ease their burden.