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Traders in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the first day of tightened MCO 3.0 SOPs which came into effect May 25, 2021, allowing businesses to operate from 8am to 8pm. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
Traders in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the first day of tightened MCO 3.0 SOPs which came into effect May 25, 2021, allowing businesses to operate from 8am to 8pm. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — The Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) has announced that it is expanding the Targeted Repayment Assistance (TRA) programme to include all small-and-medium enterprise (SME) businesses that are not permitted to operate during the full-scale lockdown.

It said all affected borrowers, including individuals, microenterprises, and SMEs, that wish to utilise the latest update of the TRA will only need to contact their respective banks to indicate which option they want to choose.

“The banks will automatically approve all selections by borrowers that fulfil the criteria set by ABM,” said the association in a statement.

Its criteria includes those who have experienced a reduction in income, including household income, as well as B40 category borrowers who are registered under Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) and/or Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR)

Microenterprises with loan facilities not exceeding RM150,000 may also opt for this specific repayment assistance.

“Under the latest TRA programme, any individual customers who have lost their employment are eligible upon contacting their banks for either a loan deferment (moratorium) for a period of three months, or a 50 per cent reduction in the monthly instalment payment for a period of six months.

“For all other affected borrowers, member banks have in place bespoke or customized rescheduling and restructuring schemes to help alleviate their burden,” said ABM.

The association’s member banks have simplified the TRA process and are committed to making it convenient for borrowers to opt for the assistance package they need.

“In most cases, borrowers should be able to make the selection on-line or over the phone. Borrowers may also do so at bank branches, but are advised to check on their respective banks’ websites for information on any changes in operating hours or arrangements for over- the-counter services in view of the continuing restrictions owing to the pandemic.

“Similarly, borrowers may refer to their respective banks’ websites for the contact information or visit ABM’s website at https://www.abm.org.my/assistance-for-eligible-borrowers-affected-by-covid-19 for more information,” it said.

Referring to Bank Negara Malaysia announcement that borrowers’ Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) records will not be affected by the TRA received in 2021, ABM assured borrowers that they will not have to worry about the impact on their future credit profile.

“Accordingly ABM urges all borrowers including SMEs who are affected by the Covid-19 containment measures to come forward and contact their banks via the banks’ official channels to discuss the best options available.

“The Credit Counseling and Management Agency (AKPK) also stand ready to provide the necessary advice and guidance to both individual borrowers and microenterprises, including options for debt restructuring,” it said.

ABM also advised microenterprises to request for assistance through AKPK’s dedicated micro business helpdesk at www.akpk.org.my/microhelpdesk, as it provides free financial advice and facilitates applications for repayment assistance.

“We would like to caution borrowers to be wary of scammers and only apply for any financial assistance through official bank channels. Borrowers are also advised not to deal with any third parties claiming to be agents or representatives of the banks on matters relating to repayment assistance, as our member banks do not appoint or engage third parties or agents for purposes of the repayment assistance.

“ABM remains fully committed to the targeted assistance approach as the best and optimal approach to assist those borrowers affected by the pandemic to ensure help is focused towards those in need, whilst ensuring the resiliency of the financial system is preserved and interest of bank depositors and shareholders continue to be safeguarded,” it said.

As of March 26, an estimated 1.6 million applications for TRA have been sent to banks, of which 95 per cent have been approved.

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