PTPTN writes off loans for 12,500 grads
KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — Some 12,500 graduates will see their National Higher Education Corporation Fund (PTPTN) loans converted into scholarships after they achieved first class honour degrees, The Star reported on its website today.
“As at April 30 this year, 12,529 graduates have been exempted (since PTPTN was set up in 1997). This involves RM359.26 million,” Datuk Ismail Mohamed Said , the PTPTN chairman, was quoted as saying during an event in Shah Alam today.
“So whether the students want to repay the loan or not, it is up to them. If you don’t want to pay back, make sure you excel in your studies,” he said, in reference to the ongoing political battle over the education loan scheme.
Also present at the event, Sepang MP Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed said that up until last month, 763,488 out of 1,053,037 applicants have been repaying the loans, allowing the corporation to recoup RM3.2 billion of the RM6.9 billion still owing.
PTPTN loans and tertiary education have become a flashpoint in the skirmishes between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the run-up to an anticipated general election.
PR recently promised to pardon all existing PTPTN loans and make tertiary education free in its bid to shore up support from young voters, which it sees as a key voting segment.
In response, BN asserts that the move could break the nation’s finances, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that scrapping PTPTN loans would cost the country over RM43 billion.
In a debate yesterday, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said PR’s pledge to abolish the PTPTN system and introduce free education would rack up a bill of RM188 billion and bankrupt the nation.
His debate opponent, PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said, however, that the moves would cost just RM5 billion per annum, which he said was a far cry from the billions the country bleeds annually due to corrupt practices.