Malaysia one of the first to enact automatic loan freeze, says minister

The six-month moratorium on loan repayments, implemented in March, is scheduled to end in September.

KUALA LUMPUR: Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz told the Dewan Rakyat today that Malaysia was one of the first countries to implement an automatic loan moratorium, ahead of nations such as Thailand, Singapore, the UK, Philippines, Canada and the US.

Speaking during the question and answer session, he said the move was made by Bank Negara Malaysia and the government with cooperation from commercial banks to help the people as well as SMEs with their cash flow during the movement control order (MCO) period.

He said this in response to Noh Omar (PN-Tanjong Karang) who had asked about the positive impacts of the moratorium.

Noh earlier caused laughter in the house when he accidentally thanked the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition for acting to provide financial aid during the MCO.

Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz

“I would like to congratulate Pakatan on the action taken by them,” he said before quickly correcting himself.

He then said it was important to list out the positive impacts of the move as he said PH would not have helped the people.

He claimed PH would have said: “No money, in debt amounting to trillions. No moratorium.”

However, one of the MPs from the opposition bench told Noh not to make assumptions.

Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) had also asked whether the loan moratorium period would be extended for another six months, and the reason for interest to be charged for credit cards.

To this, Tengku Zafrul said the government had implemented more than 80 initiatives under its economic stimulus packages.

He also said the moratorium had assisted more than 7.7 million people and helped 243,000 or 95% of SMEs.

He said discussions are ongoing on the possible extension of the moratorium, adding that it was up to the banks if they wished to extend the loan moratorium in a targeted manner.