The time has come for National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan defaulters to take up the rebates offered by the government and settle the outstanding amounts, said an academician.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Faculty of Economic and Business lecturer Prof Dr Shazali Abu Mansor said the rebates announced under Budget 2015 shows that the government is being very lenient towards borrowers who have not even repaid a single sen to date.

“You have to contribute to the nation as the government has provided PTPTN loan for you, that’s the least you can do to help the government,” he told Bernama here Friday.

During the tabling of Budget 2015 at Dewan Rakyat today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said a rebate of 10 per cent will be offered to borrowers who continuously make repayments for 12 months until Dec 31, 2015.

An additional 20 per cent discount will also be offered to borrowers who make lump sum repayments from today until March 31, 2015.

Similar rebates were also offered to borrowers under Budget 2013. A 20 per cent rebate was offered to those who repaid their loans fully before Sept 30, 2013. A discount of 10 per cent per annum was also offered to borrowers who made consistent repayments effective Oct 1, 2012.

Under Budget 2010, the government had announced that PTPTN loans will be converted to scholarships for students who graduate with a first-class honours degree.

PTPTN, which was established on Nov 1, 1997, is a special fund set up by the government to provide loans to students pursuing higher education.

However, the lack of follow-up action by PTPTN to get borrowers repay their loans had resulted in many of them delaying their repayments.

START PAYING BEFORE OFFER ENDS

Shazali called on defaulters not to be selfish as their action could deprive others from being able to further their studies.

Universiti Malaya Media Officer Harris Rajahdin, 34, who also welcomed the rebate announcement, said it is a privilege for students to obtain PTPTN loans.

“It is a privilege which they should share with others. If they don’t pay, then they are denying other students the privilege. It’s our responsibility to pay back the government,” said Harris, who has already fully settled his PTPTN loan.

Since the establishment of PTPTN in 1997, a total 2.1 million borrowers had taken loans worth RM47.8 billion. However, as at Aug 31, 2014, only RM5.36 billion has been collected from borrowers.

It has been reported that some 174,000 borrowers have not made any payments since 2010.

EASY PAYMENT SCHEME

Tamil Youth Bell Club President K. Murali suggested that the government come up with an easy payment scheme for PTPTN loan defaulters to enable them to repay their loans.

He said such a scheme was needed due to the rising of living cost. If they still failed to pay up, then their names should be listed in the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS), he said.

The PTPTN had recently proposed to list the names of loan defaulters in CCRIS.

Murali said listing their names in CCRIS should only be resorted to when all other options have failed.

“This is because once blacklisted, they cannot further their education or buy a house or car, or apply for any other loan,” he told Bernama today.

Harris urged the government to reduce the interest rate on the PTPTN loans to encourage more borrowers to pay up.

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