By John Isaac
THE GPS Government should step in to help Sarawakians who are facing difficulties repaying their housing loans for the duration of Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Sarawakians in the B40 and M40 segments have found it increasingly difficult to pay their housing loans as they lack sufficient financial savings.
“In fact, according to the Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents (MIEA), there is an increase in the number of properties being sold in Sarawak in 2020 as they were being sold off by homeowners to manage the financial hardships caused by the pandemic,” said Irene Chang, the state assemblywoman for Bukit Assek
Though, a blanket loan moratorium was imposed by the Federal government last year to assist households and SMEs, this moratorium has since expired on Sept 30, 2020.
“Since then, the banks in Malaysia had been offering targeted repayment assistance and there are still many Sarawakians who are facing housing loan repayment problems.
“This was caused by either loss of employment or from a much reduced income,” she said.
In fact, Irene said many of these people have reached the stage where they are extremely stressed out from fear of eventually losing their homes due to their inability to pay the instalments.
“Given the dire state in which these Sarawakian home owners are in, I call upon the State Government to step in and offer to subsidise at least part of these housing loan repayments in cases where the defaulters are genuinely adversely affected by the MCO.
“It is noted that in BKSS 5, there was no such financial assistance for these homeowners,” she said.
With the huge state reserve of RM31 billion and the payment of RM2.95 billion in sale stax by Petronas to the State Government in 2020 (with more payment to be expected for year 2020), surely the State Government can afford to come up with a mechanism to help genuine cases of homeowners from the B40 and M40 groups in the repayment of their loan instalments.
“To ensure that only the genuine cases are being assisted, mechanisms should be put in place for these applicants to prove their loss of employment or reduced income through their EPF and Socso payments.
“Also, given that the economy is not expected to recover any time soon, now is the time for the State Government to consider utilising part of the huge state reserves to help the people to protect them from losing their homes,” she stressed.