BUDGET 2019 | Do students from the middle-income M40 group need not be intelligent or work hard? That is the question posed by former premier Najib Abdul Razak, who is asking why the Pakatan Harapan government will only be providing PTPTN loan discounts to high-achieving low-income B40 graduates.
The ousted prime minister took aim at the recent tabling of the 2019 Budget on Friday in which Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng stated that discounts on the loan will be accorded to students from low-income B40 households who obtain first-class honours in their studies.
Deeming the move to restrict the discounts to B40 first-class undergraduates as "not right", Najib stated such benefits were to incentivise the young to study hard to get good grades.
"The M40 group with a household income of RM5,000 a month with more than two children are sure to be affected by the government's move.
"Does the Harapan government feel that students from this M40 group have no need to be hardworking and smart?
"Isn't such exemption part of free education promised by the Harapan government themselves? Something as easy as that can also be withdrawn," he said in a Facebook post today.
Under the previous BN government, students in private or public institutions of higher learning in the country were exempted from repaying their PTPTN loans upon earning first-class honours for their bachelor’s degree, upon meeting certain conditions.
Previously, Pakatan Harapan Youth endorsed an election manifesto on free education from early childhood to public universities.
Education Minister Maszlee Malik also recently reiterated the new government's pledge to free education when in a written reply to the Dewan Rakyat, when he stated that primary and secondary government education was completely free, while tertiary education is also free since students only need to pay 10 percent of the operating cost.
“This means all the public university students are receiving a 90-percent subsidy from the government,” he was quoted as saying.
In Budget 2019, the federal government also promised tax breaks for companies helping their employers repay PTPTN loans for the year ending 2019.
It also announced payment through deductions of between two and 15 percent from the borrower's salary, based on their monthly income rates. This system is only applicable to borrowers earning more than RM1,000 a month.
The government also announced that all remaining loans for borrowers aged above 60 and earning less than RM4,000 a month have been waived, benefiting 350 borrowers with a cost of RM4.2 million.