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By M. Saraswathi
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 -- Borrowers, especially those affected by the movement curbs due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, can still seek help from their respective banks on their loan repayment.
"Borrowers need not be anxious. The repayment assistance is ongoing and will extend well into 2021. We understand that circumstances and uncertainties could change down the road and people can reach out for assistance anytime,” Bank Negara Malaysia deputy governor Jessica Chew told Bernama today.
Although the automatic loan deferment moratorium, the subsequent targeted moratorium and repayment assistance are unprecedented, banks have mobilised all their resources to handle the situation.
"The banks are very well positioned to respond to borrowers' needs. All banks have dedicated resources and re-engineered their processes to review borrowers’ applications," said Chew.
Even in areas where the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) are imposed, borrowers can reach out to the banks via online or phone call.
“BNM has a dedicated page (www.bnm.gov.my/tra) where borrowers that are in need of repayment assistance can obtain more information. Borrowers can also fill in a form on the website http://bnm.my/RAsurvey with a few simple information which we can use to arrange call-backs from their banks,” said Chew.
As at Oct 9, a total of 640,000 applications for assistance were received. Approval rate stood at 98 per cent, of which 40 per cent secured extension of moratorium and 60 per cent reduction in instalment. In fact, Chew said, applications for assistance in repayment started coming in even before the blanket moratorium ended.
She stressed that a targeted repayment assistance is best suited now as it enables the banks to extend temporary relief to borrowers that need it the most.
The banks are also better prepared, having put in place the infrastructure to help borrowers, compared to when the pandemic first hit.
"In March this year when there was a sudden stop in activities across the board, nobody ever thought that such a situation would occur. Under those circumstances, there was a need to provide immediate relief for borrowers.
"Now not only is our healthcare system better prepared and ready, so are the banks," she said.
A targeted repayment assistance also improves visibility of the loan performance of banks.
"There is still much uncertainty as we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last, at least until a vaccine is developed. Hence, it is important that resources are conserved and directed to people and businesses who really need it.”
New lending is also critical to support the economic recovery and banks must be comfortable to lend, explained Chew.
"If resources are deployed elsewhere, it may affect credit flows to sectors which may require financing to resume their business activities. This could in turn affect the economy and the pace of economic recovery," she warned.