Focus on unemployment, poverty levels, Anwar tells govt

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim says extending the moratorium for loan repayments is only a temporary solution to problems such as poverty.

PETALING JAYA: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim today urged Putrajaya to focus on addressing the rising unemployment and poverty levels in the country, following the government’s announcement of a three-month targeted extension of the moratorium on loan repayments.

Anwar, who is PKR president, said almost 20% of Malaysia’s workforce was self-employed, and that this group had been severely affected by the movement control order.

He said over 90% had experienced a drop in income while 50% had lost all income.

“I urge the government to focus on developing comprehensive solutions to rising unemployment, poverty and inequality, establishing a sustainable social security programme to assist the poorest segments of society while the economy recovers, and providing more support to individuals and SMEs struggling with financial burdens during the pandemic,” he said in a statement.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that the moratorium on loan repayments would be extended for certain groups, especially those who lost their jobs this year.

Monthly instalments meanwhile will be reduced for those who had their salaries cut.

However, Anwar called the initiative “a temporary solution to a deeper problem”.

He said the moratorium and loan repayment flexibility were dependent on the application and approval process implemented by banks.

He also said the promised relief was not automatically guaranteed, adding that banks might have the ultimate say in who qualifies for financial reprieve.

“I urge the government to exercise transparency and accountability in the delivery of this benefit to ensure assistance reaches those in dire need as efficiently as possible,” he said.