KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — The National Higher Education Fund Corporation’s (PTPTN) plan to take repayments directly from borrowers’ salaries will have serious repercussions on future political support for Pakatan Harapan (PH), the DAP Socialist Youth said today.
Stressing that the decision was made unilaterally and without consultation with the various youth wings of PH parties, DAPSY chief Howard Lee expressed misgivings over the juxtaposition of the controversial bid with the coalition’s undelivered promise to defer PTPTN payments before.
Lee added that the proposed rates would place undue financial burden on borrowers during the current economic uncertainty, requiring them to suddenly find additional income with which to meet both the demanded payments and existing obligations.
“The PTPTN must note and consider the political implications to PH if this scheme is implemented. The original manifesto pledge was the basis of many PTPTN borrowers’ support for PH during the general election cannot be discounted.
“The shift from RM4,000 to RM2,000 is something which already undermined PH’s credibility severely, what more this wage garnishment scheme that penalises those who have supported PTPTN with steady monthly payments,” Lee said in a statement today.
PH previously pledged to defer PTPTN repayments for borrowers earning under RM4,000 and has since abandoned this.
The Perak lawmaker urged the PTPTN to halt further efforts to implement the scheme that is set to start in January and convene discussions with all stakeholders including PTPTN borrowers and political youth movements from PH.
He said there were other alternatives to the proposed wage garnishments such as incentivising lump-sum repayments.
Among others, Lee also suggested diverting Employees Provident Fund contributions to offset PTPTN loans until the latter are paid off, saying the wage garnishment should also be an opt-in scheme.
“DAPSY stresses that the strategy of burdening and punishing payers who have been making fixed monthly payments to PTPTN is unacceptable and will bring severe long-term political implication.”
PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan announced on Wednesday that his agency will garnish the wages of borrowers earning above RM2,000 monthly at tiered rates ranging from 2 per cent to 15 per cent.
The proposal drew criticism from both sides of the political divide as well as from employers and employees, with unions and Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran pointing out that there was no law to compel firms to facilitate the wage garnishment.
Yesterday, Wan Saiful insisted that the agreements borrowers signed with PTPTN gave his agency the authority to pursue repayment through any means necessary.