Don’t take advantage of borrowers’ plight, banks told

Banks should not impose unfair conditions on their borrowers in light of the Covid-19 crisis, says the National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia.

PETALING JAYA: An airline employees’ union today said banks should not take advantage of borrowers’ predicament to impose their own terms on loan repayments.

The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) said it had been told by members that some banks were imposing extension of loan repayment periods by seven to 10 years even though they only had two to three years of repayments to go.

“These airline employees had sought help to extend the moratorium on loan repayments but the offer made by the banks was different to that which the government had announced in the moratorium.

“The employees were told that extension of the moratorium was not possible but only (the tenure of their) loans will be extended to a longer period. This means they will have to pay more over a longer period with more interest earned by the banks,” Nufam said in a statement today.

Describing this as unfair, the union said the banks should not take advantage of the Covid-19 situation but should instead help those who had taken up hire purchase and housing loans.

The government had said recently that with the moratorium ending on Sept 30, banking institutions should continue to assist borrowers affected by Covid-19 with an extended moratorium and targeted bank assistance.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz said individuals who lost their jobs this year and had not yet found new jobs would enjoy an extended moratorium targeted for a period of three months. After the period, the moratorium period could be extended by the banks depending on the individual situation.

For individuals still working but with their salaries cut, he said, the monthly instalment payments could be reduced in line with the salary reduction, depending on the type of loan.

Nufam questioned banks for extending the loan period by several years even in cases where borrowers had only a few more years to pay off their balance.

“The least they could do is to let the borrowers pay the lowest amount until the situation improves. We believe all banks can do this and offer such terms to our members and borrowers in general.”

The union said it feared some banks may come down hard on those who cannot service their loans after the moratorium ends in September.

“Will these people be made bankrupt? We want the banks to help those who have lost their jobs with the airlines and have no proper income.”

It also said many of its members who were still employed have had their monthly income reduced drastically, some by up to 80%.

“They have been forced to take long-term unpaid leave and their earnings are less than RM500 a month,” it said, adding that airlines had reduced their flight operations since the lockdown was imposed by the government.