PETALING JAYA: A Pahang Umno leader has urged the banking sector to postpone debt collection from borrowers, saying it would help the public who are already facing the brunt of the Covid-19 outbreak which has forced the government to restrict economic activities.
Lanchang assemblyman Sharkar Shamsuddin, who is also part of Umno’s Supreme Council, said the movement control order announced last night to prevent the spread of the pandemic was needed but would also mean more financial pressure on the people.
“A lot more people will see their income being affected and this will add to their stress,” he told FMT.
He said banks should stop collecting loan repayments, including from businesses, as well as halt repayments on housing, car and personal loans.
“If they don’t do this on their own accord, then I hope Bank Negara will at least instruct them to come out with debt payment ‘holiday’ schemes to allay the fears and concerns of the people,” said Sharkar, who is the Pahang state executive councillor for tourism, environment and plantations.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last night announced a ban on mass gatherings for religious, sports, social and cultural activities and the closure of schools, government and business premises from March 18 to 31.
Only essential services and supermarkets, public markets, provision shops as well as utility services, including the banking sector, will remain open.
Sharkar meanwhile appealed to authorities not to exclude undocumented migrants in the current Covid-19 containment plan.
He said they should be exempted from prosecution in order to encourage them to seek medical treatment.
“It is also important that we put aside all political differences. Let’s stop the finger-pointing and work together as Team Malaysia in the interests of our largest stakeholder, the rakyat.”
Sharkar said there is an urgent need for national unity in combating Covid-19.
“If we pussyfoot by not cooperating with the authorities, I fear we will end up having to take more drastic action, like what we have seen in Italy and I don’t think anyone wants that.”
Sharkar meanwhile paid tribute to the health ministry, especially those on the medical frontline.
“I hope the government can continue to support the medical fraternity by cutting the red tape and sparing no expense in getting them the resources they need,” he added.
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