Ever since I was in college, I have been hearing about the problems the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) was facing in collecting payments.
The amount of loans given out to date runs into the billions, but unfortunately, the collection figures are far from encouraging.
The government has tried numerous methods to get these defaulters to repay their loans, but nothing has been successful.
Defaulters were even banned from leaving the country at one time, a move which is again being considered by PTPTN.
However, this proposal has not gone down well with many, and even Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim felt it was too harsh.
Other schools of thought were of the opinion that it was fine to stop defaulters from leaving the country so long as they were going on a holiday.
If they were going abroad to work, then many felt they should be allowed to do so, but certainly not for a holiday.
If he or she can afford to go for a holiday, then they surely can repay their loans.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, however, has said that the statement by PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan to re-introduce a travel ban for loan defaulters was a misunderstanding.
“What we are doing now is public consultation on the best way to handle PTPTN defaulters and not impose a travel ban,” he said.
Though unconfirmed, there have been allegations that many of those who applied for a PTPTN loan did not even use it for their education.
Allegedly, some used the money for other reasons, including to buy themselves a new motorcycle.
To me, the penalty on a defaulter should be on a case-to-case basis as there are those who genuinely used the money to study but are unable to repay due to low salaries and such.
This is actually very sad as the inconsiderate act by defaulters continues to deny many other deserving cases access to the financial assistance.
Perhaps a good solution to this problem would be some sort of salary deduction scheme with the new employers.
Otherwise, this problem is set to persist and PTPTN may not even be able to sustain.
It is time those concerned have a serious brainstorming session with other knowledgeable parties to come up with a solution.
If banks and financial institutions can ensure their loans are repaid, then there surely must be some mechanism which PTPTN can also adopt.
Many banks outsource their loan collections and this is something PTPTN could also consider.