Increasing social aid to RM1,000 is fine, but what about loan moratorium? Guan Eng asks PM

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur August 28, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur August 28, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — While saying the DAP supports the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government’s proposal to raise the social welfare monthly aid to RM1,000, its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today asked Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin to consider extending the moratorium of bank loans by another six months as well. 

The Bagan MP claimed extending the moratorium would help as many as eight million Malaysians compared to the one million people who stand to benefit from the extra social welfare income alone.

“Even though the increase of monthly aid of between RM200 and RM300 to RM1,000 for needy people is part of the prime minister’s political calculations for the Sabah state elections, DAP expresses support for such a proposal to help those needy financially, especially from the B40.

“This would increase yearly government expenditure of such social welfare payments of RM1.7 billion from over 500,000 recipients in 2018 to RM12 billion from the expected increase in recipients to one million Malaysians. 

“However, a moratorium extension of another six months whether borne by the banks of the government, will help a larger number of eight million Malaysians and companies,” Lim said in a statement.

He said the government needs to shift to a more strategic financial focus of borrowing more money to rapidly lift Malaysia out of the economic gloom due to the current Covid-19 crisis. 

He added that when Pakatan Harapan (PH) was government, its priority was on controlling and managing sovereign debts, especially the country’s hidden off-balance sheet liabilities, which he claimed was caused by the financial excesses of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, listing the 1MDB scandal as example.

“Malaysia is the worst performer in Asean with a contraction of 17.1 per cent in our growth domestic product for the second quarter. 

“With unemployment at a high 4.9 per cent or 773,200 unemployed in June, the number of social welfare recipients is expected to swell to one million from the previous 500,000 in 2018 when unemployment was a low 3.4 per cent,” Lim said.

Noting that the government is now extending the recovery movement control order (RMCO) to December 31, the Opposition lawmaker suggested injecting an additional RM45 billion into another stimulus package to help save the jobs and livelihoods of 32 million Malaysian.

Malaysia was in lockdown for nearly three months from mid-March when the Covid-19 coronavirus infections was spreading worldwide. 

 The RMCO, which began on June 10 as the government lifted many restrictions to enable the economy to recover, was initially supposed to end today.

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