Loan moratorium only for the needy, says AmBank chief

2020-06-29

KUALA LUMPUR: Only some customers of AmBank Group will enjoy a moratorium on repayments on their bank loans after the current six-month suspension ends, the group’s chief executive, Sulaiman Mohd Tahir, said today.

He said a blanket extension of relief was not wise, as most most businesses had resumed operations in the current recovery phase of the Covid-19 crisis.

“We should be looking at certain segments, and groups of people who require it. I am sure banks (are) in the position to also help out, in terms of people who are affected very much as the result (of the pandemic),” he said at a news conference here.

“However, I don’t think it is wise to go for a blanket kind of moratorium like what we did before because at the time, during the MCO (movement control order period), the situation was quite dire,” he said.

“But things have changed. Post-MCO we have seen activities and businesses pick up; in fact, some businesses out there say they don’t need a moratorium any more as they commence activities back as normal.”

Sulaiman was speaking to reporters after announcing the group’s financial results for 2020.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had said yesterday that banks were free to decide on extending the loan moratorium in a targeted way.

Property exec urges six-month extension of moratorium

In a separate media interview, property entrepreneur Vincent Tiew said the property sector should be granted a six-month extension in order for the people to re-adjust their financial commitments or financial lifestyle.

He said the people and businesses were still faced with a high unemployment rate.

“Banks already have so much on their plate and it is possible that there could be another one or two cuts (in bank lending rates) this year,” he said in an interview on Bernama TV.

“It is very unlikely that banks will extend the moratorium to individuals or companies…. If the government leaves it up to the individuals to apply, (it’s) highly likely they will not be able to get it,” said Tiew, who is managing director of the Andaman property group.

The moratorium on loans was announced by the government in March. It will end on Sept 30.

Tiew said banks would set tighter terms on loans to property developers this year. He urged the government to consider allowing foreigners to purchase properties without quota restrictions.

“Why worry about foreigners buying the whole block itself in any event? The kind of buying activities and investment activities — when they (foreigners) invest in your hotel, for example — it is good for the hotel or tourism sector because it means that there will be employment in the industry,” he said.

Unsold Bumiputera lots should also be allowed to be released to non-Bumiputeras and international buyers on a willing-buyer willing-seller basis to reduce the property glut.

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