KUALA LUMPUR — October 24, 2018: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today turned the tables on a deputy minister who blamed him for supposedly discouraging students from repaying their loans with the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN)
This followed a denial by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching in parliament today that the drop in this year’s repayments was entirely due to Pakatan Harapan’s promise in its manifesto for the last general elections.
Instead, Teo said Najib’s decision in October last year to extend the grace period for PTPTN borrowers from six to 12 months had discouraged this year’s repayments.
“Was it wrong to extend the grace period? They (PH) were the ones who promised to abolish PTPTN and tell students to not pay their loans and now I am to be blamed? If this is my fault I accept it,” says Najib’s tongue-in-cheek post on Facebook.
In the manifesto Pakatan pledges that fresh graduates earning less than RM4,000 per month will be able to delay settling their loans and that it will delist defaulters if the coalition forms the government.
According to Teo, PTPTN loan repayments had dropped from RM351 million in January last year to RM297 million a year later. The repayment in March had also dropped from RM384 million to RM293 .
While she blamed Najib, PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who is also a Pakatan politician, had on June 27 said that the drop happened shortly after the coalition released its manifesto.
PTPTN deputy chief executive Mastura Mohd. Khalid said borrowers took on a wait-and-see attitude when Pakatan announced its manifesto, adding that the drop will continue once the coalition’s pledges are implemented.
Last month, Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad lambasted PTPTN defaulters, calling them untrustworthy and lamenting that he was ashamed with their failure to pay up even when they can afford to.
Since its inception in 2012, the fund has given out RM43 billion to 1.9 million students and has until today accumulated RM36 billion of unpaid loans.