KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan today proposed for the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) to write off between 10 and 20 per cent of its loans given to students due to Covid-19 financial burdens.

In debating the King’s address in the Dewan Rakyat today, the former deputy finance minister said that while a RM63.8 billion complete write-off is impossible, it is at least feasible to cap the initiative at 20 per cent.

“This PTPTN is a success in helping the education [sector]. What is the new offer of the new government with regards to PTPTN?” the Umno MP asked.

“We got informed that 3.51 million PTPTN recipients, perhaps our children too, some of them are PTPTN recipients. How much is the total amount of PTPTN funds which has been disbursed to 3.51 million recipients? RM63.8 billion. Truly, it is something impossible for us to write off all of it, but what if during this Covid-19 period, we write off 10 per cent of these PTPTN loans?

“This is popular. Make it 20 per cent and it becomes even more popular, but if it is a false promise, promise and then lie about writing it off entirely, that did not happen and it simply cannot happen because RM63.8 billion is not a small sum of money. So I want to propose to PTPTN, must find the funds by doing investments,” he said.

Ahmad pointed to the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) as a means to realise his proposal.

“There is already the SSPN and we collect that fund, slash the tax, slash the salaries so that this SSPN fund; it is a great fund, there is a lot. Maybe hundreds of billions and with money amounting to hundreds of billions, we invest in safe investments and from the profits made from the fund, we write-off between 10 and 20 per cent of the PTPTN [loans] of RM63.8 billion,” he proposed.

Last year, DAP’s Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng expressed hope that the then federal government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership, can abolish the PTPTN loans for the B40 group just like how it wrote off Pahang’s RM2.1 billion water supply debt.

In a statement, Lim said he is confident the government can give the same consideration to struggling families who have been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If billions of dollars worth of allocation can be given to Pahang by abolishing their debt to the state government, I’m sure the same thing can be done for borrowers in the B40 category.

“Totally removing all debt may be impossible but perhaps a portion of it or maybe half of the total owed can be written off which would help these families greatly,” said Lim.

On December 23, Putrajaya agreed to write off the Pahang state government’s debt of RM2.1 billion through the water services industry restructuring agreement.

Minister of Environment and Water, Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man at that time, said that the initiative involved rural area water supply debt amounting to RM1 billion while the balance would be transferred by novation to Pengurusan Aset Air Berhad.