LEMBAH Pantai member of parliament Fahmi Fadzil has thrown the gauntlet to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz over the mass confusion caused by the flip flopping behind the moratorium by banks announced as part of the government’s Covid 19 relief package.

While Bank Negara is seen to have been handed the fall-guy task over this debacle, with Tengku Zafrul stating yesterday the central bank’s communication had to be improved, Fahmi has called for the Finance Minister to either take responsibility or step down.

In a statement today, Fahmi, who is also PKR communications chief, said the people had been deeply angered by the announcement by Bank Negara Malaysia and the Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) over the compounded and accrued interest to be charged despite the six-month moratorium on loan repayment, including hire purchase.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz. Pic: wikipedia

“We can understand the people’s anger, as the Senior Minister (Economic Affairs) and the Finance Minister had both initially appeared on television clearly stating the moratorium would not see them being charged interest,” said Fahmi.

He was echoing short video excerpts of both Tengku Zafrul and Senior Minister Azmin Ali stating those facts, which had flooded social media since the government announced the abrupt u-turn, in contradiction of their initial announcement which was part of the so-announced RM250 billion stimulus/relief package for the economy.

“The absence of coordination in the policy and communications in this issue had resulted in the Finance Minister yesterday stating that BNM had to improve their communications. Then today, the Finance Minister had in turn urged banks to dispose the accrued interest throughout the enforcement of the moratorium,” said Fahmi.

He said the Finance Minister should hold himself responsible over the failure in coordination between the government, BNM and banks, as well as the mass confusion that arose as a consequence of that failure.

“This is because his suggestion today comes 39 days after the BNM announcement on March 25 and more than a month since the moratorium began on April 1. This issue should have been resolved with banks more than a month ago,” said Fahmi.

This matter has been highlighted by netizens and activists alike, with the damning fact that the flip flop stance of the government has resulted in those who decided to take the moratorium now saddled with a month’s lapse in payment should they want to reverse their decision and an extra burden of interest payments at the end of it.

“How can the Finance Minister allow a month of the moratorium to pass before coming up with this suggestion today? Why weren’t the meetings, discussions and decisions made at the initial stages, either before or after the stimulus package was announced by the Prime Minister on March 27?

“Does the Finance Minister not understand that there are many who have lost their jobs or have lost their income during this Movement Control Order (MCO) period, and have made calculations on household expenses based on the statements made before this moratorium began?” Fahmi said in his statement.

He said the people’s and the nation’s economy can only be saved through efforts that are properly planned, coordinated and by synergising all sectors involved, including the executive.

“The Finance Minister needs to urgently offer solutions to this interest issue. If he can only provide advice or proposals, then stop blaming others and he should himself step down,” said Fahmi.