KUALA LUMPUR — May 29, 2019: Housewife Halimaton Hamid’s motherly voice shifted into a rather stern tone, imbued with disbelief, when she was informed about the predicament of the National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN).
The 42-year-old mother of three, who was not a news junkie, always knew that the student loan provider was facing problems but she did not realise how bad they were.
“I did not know that they (PTPTN) have already amassed RM40 billion in debts and that more than half of its borrowers haven’t paid even a single cent,” said the shocked Halimaton when she was informed about PTPTN’s on-going survey to improve its performance.
“I’m not good with computers but I’ll ask one of my sons to help me take part. We cannot let PTPTN go kaput, our future generations need it,” added Halimaton, who believed that the outfit should enforce strict regulations against hardcore defaulters.
Halimaton’s obliviousness of the survey, which will end on June 13, however was not unusual. In a statement issued today, PTPTN stated that despite being an issue of national interest, very few Malaysians have participated in the survey.
The survey, which was a continuation of PTPTN’s public consultation process, is to ensure inputs from stakeholders are considered when formulating the most appropriate repayment mechanism.
“Public feedback will be a part of the final submission to the Cabinet,” reads the statement by the chairman of PTPTN’s public consultation and advisory panel, Sheikh Shahruddin Sheikh Salim.
“It may be a given for borrowers to participate and put through their wants but the rest need to care more about this issue for a well-represented and meaningful outcome,” said Shahruddin in stressing the importance of the survey.
The survey was launched three weeks ago, with PTPTN highlighting the fact that it could eventually collapse if its debt-to-repayment gap continues to widen. If that happens, the repercussions will be mainly felt by those who intend to borrow.
“I am not happy that the politicians have broken their promises on PTPTN but I have started paying back my dues after I was made aware of their dire financial situation few weeks ago,” said insurance agent Mohd. Radzi Hakimi.
Radzi was referring to Pakatan Harapan’s infamous promise of repayment deferments to those earning a monthly income of less than RM4,000, which according to PTPTN, will increase its debt to RM100 billion in 20 years.
This, as mentioned at the website of the survey, was due to the fact that 68 per cent of PTPTN’s borrowers earned less than RM4,000 a month and that it could take up to 15 years for them to reach the salary band.
PTPTN’s survey will end in 15 more days. Those interested to participate may visit its website here.