KUALA LUMPUR Oct 10 – PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli claims the government’s recent announcement to recover outstanding National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) loans by blacklisting defaulters under the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) is immoral. “I have examined the decision to list PTPTN debtors under CCRIS as part of PTPTN’s debt collection measures. “I am also aware that the reasons given by Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who had made a ‘U-turn’ from his initial position to support PTPTN’s decision this time,” he said in a statement today. While the Pandan Member of Parliament agreed that PTPTN’s debt collecting methods needed improvement, he said there were other alternatives to collecting the debts without having the need to blacklist loan defaulters.
“In my view, the opposition to the proposal of implementing CCRIS is not merely a question of settling the debts. Rafizi explained it was more important that the Umno/Barisan Nasional leadership not turn a blind eye towards the larger moral question and implication of PTPTN listing loan defaulters under CCRIS. He added that Khairy as Youth and Sports Minister would have to answer to the younger working generation as to why the government failed to adopt a similar approach against cronies and corporate figures whose debts, he alleged, was more than RM1 billion and could not be collected via the same method.
Rafizi stressed that the rakyat would be generally angry when the government, through PTPTN, used harsh methods to collect a debt of several thousand ringgit from ordinary citizens, whereas no such action was taken against large borrowers from among cronies whose value was many times greater. “Therefore, I urge Khairy to stick to his initial stance of opposing the blacklisting of PTPTN borrowers under CCRIS because there are other more prudent ways.” Rafizi suggested that PTPTN set disposable income criteria that separated borrowers who could afford to pay but refused to do so, against those who were unable to afford repayment.
“For example, PTPTN borrowers who have become housewives have a bigger liability in repaying the debt than someone who is currently operating a big business. “Therefore the Australian approach can be adopted where PTPTN can only impose whereby only borrowers who have reached a certain salary cap should pay the debt. “In this case only borrowers with a monthly disposable income reaching over RM1,000 (after taking into account the number of children and dependants) should PTPTN order to repay the debt,” he said. On tackling errant debtors who refused to pay, Rafizi suggested that they place advertisements listing them as loan defaulters on local papers as a method to get them to pay their loans.
“This method is already being used by scholarship-providing organisations such as Petronas, Mara and others as means to collect outstanding debts,” he said. Rafizi said that the utilisation of the CCRIS to recoup outstanding loans would only serve to victimise the people during the current pressing economic times. “That is why I think it is immoral to pursue PTPTN borrowers through this method while large debtors from among cronies in this country remain pampered.” Yesterday, Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh announced that graduates who had defaulted on their PTPTN loans will enter Bank Negara’s bad credit list next year unless they started repaying the RM1.2 billion borrowed from the government. He had said the 170,000 PTPTN defaulters would be given a grace period of three months to avoid being listed in the CCRIS — which could affect their chances of securing car and housing loans.