JOHOR BARU: The three-month targeted extension of the loan moratorium has been a relief to those suffering from loss of income.
Among them is S. Francis, 38, who has been on unpaid leave from his job as a security officer in Singapore since March after Malaysia closed its border with the island republic due to Covid-19.
“I am relieved that both my applications to extend the moratorium for my house and car loans have been approved. I don’t think I’ll be able to pay the loans without the moratorium as I have lost more than half my income.
“I’m running a small business selling spare car parts that I bought online to earn a living for the past few months,” he said, adding that his current income was only enough to cover his basic needs.
“I don’t know how I’ll be able to pay the loans when the moratorium ends if I can’t return to my job in Singapore,” Francis said.
He said he would need to fork out at least RM8,000 if he were to return to Singapore before the border reopens for daily commuting.
“I need to have enough money to pay for accommodation, including a deposit for rent, as well as food and other basic needs.
“My company has agreed to pay for my quarantine in Singapore but the cost will be deducted later from my monthly salary,” he said.
In a televised address on July 29, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that individuals who lost their jobs this year and did not have a new job could enjoy the moratorium for another three months after the automated moratorium period ended on Sept 30.
After three months, the moratorium period can be extended by the banks depending on the individual’s situation.
For individuals who are employed but have had their wages cut, their monthly instalments will be decreased in tandem with their pay cuts, Muhyiddin said.
Former cafe assistant manager Alia Maisara Ishak, 28, said the extension gave her time to focus on getting a new job.
“I lost my job in Singapore in March as I opted to remain in Johor instead of staying on in Singapore.
“I’m now helping my mother who has a small home-based food business,” Alia said.
She said the moratorium extension would help her to be less financially dependent on her parents who were also finding it difficult to make ends meet.
“My father is a pensioner while my mother’s income from her food business is not much,” she said, adding that she hoped to get a new job before the moratorium ends.
Private tutor R. Gayathri, 32, said she and her husband were able to extend their moratorium period for their house loan and get a flexible loan repayment arrangement for their car loan.
“My husband works in Singapore. As he is no longer able to commute daily due to the border closure, he has no choice but to fork out more money for his daily expenses there, where the cost of living is much higher than in Johor.
“On top of that, his company no longer allows employees to work overtime which has impacted his salary,” she said.
Gayathri added that she also suffered a reduction in income due to the movement control order (MCO) as she was unable to conduct classes for several months.
“I used to have at least eight students but now I only have two.
“Some of my students had to stop taking classes as their parents could no longer afford it due to financial constraints,” she said, adding that she was unable to conduct classes from March 18 to mid-July.
The moratorium extension and loan restructuring gave her and her husband a breather during these tough times.
Meanwhile, Johor Socso director Tong Sing Chuang said that as of August, a total of 5,824 individuals who lost their jobs received assistance from its Employment Insurance System (EIS).
“Johor Baru has the highest number of cases at 4,292, followed by Kluang (650), Batu Pahat (396), Muar (264) and Segamat (222).
“We received 7,614 applications since the beginning of the year and about 1,215 applications were turned down,” he said.
Tong added that among reasons for applications being rejected were voluntary resignation, insufficient contribution, misconduct and expiry of contract.