Citing sinking economy, Guan Eng calls for moratorium extension

Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng says unemployment is expected to get worse.

PETALING JAYA: Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has added his voice to calls for an extension of a six-month moratorium on loan repayments, citing the higher rate of unemployment as an indication of worsening economic conditions.

The unemployment rate had risen from 3.2% in January to 5% in April, the highest in decades, and would rise further “as more companies are still in the process of retiring their employees”, he said.

Lim said ordinary Malaysians and local businesses were not ready for the moratorium being lifted next month. It should be extended until the economy has improved.

Malaysians would thus be able to better plan their finances. An extension would ease personal hardships. “It does no one any good to push fellow Malaysians and local businesses into bankruptcy” which would only worsen the recession.

Lim said the prime minister had claimed the six-month loan moratorium would involve RM100 billion, while the finance minister said that as of June moratoriums on RM47.5 billion had been granted.

He said he believed the government could do more.

On Friday Bank Negara Malaysia said it had no intention to extend the moratorium; borrowers who faced difficulties could seek help from banks to restructure or reschedule their loans.

Last weekend, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the government is engaging with banks to extend the six-month moratorium on bank loans following requests by many people to do so.

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