KUALA LUMPUR: As of the end of June 2021, 12.8 per cent of household loan accounts, or 16 per cent of outstanding household loan exposures, were under a repayment assistance plan with borrowers earning less than RM5,000 monthly forming two-thirds of these loan accounts.
This was higher than the 8.9 per cent of household accounts, or 11.1 per cent of outstanding household loan exposures, as of December 2020, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said.
"While access to repayment assistance is helping to temporarily support borrowers’ debt-servicing capacity, a more entrenched economic recovery remains key to restoring the longer term financial health of borrowers,” it said in its Financial Stability Report for the first half of 2021 released here today.
The central bank pointed out that some early positive signs of this were observed, as the total share of household accounts under repayment assistance began to fall between February (11.5 per cent) and May (10.6 per cent), just before the Full Movement Control Order (FMCO) was imposed.
The report also stated that as of end-July 2021, the share of household loan accounts and exposures under repayment assistance also rose sharply to 25.4 per cent and 30 per cent of total household accounts and loan exposures, respectively.
On other developments, it said borrowers who opted for the latest assistance packages were spread across all income groups. This, coupled with the more flexible eligibility criteria for assistance, suggests that the recent rise in accounts under repayment assistance is not solely driven by borrowers in distress.
Surveys by BNM and anecdotal evidence indicate that about a third of borrowers that applied for repayment assistance is partly using it to build up precautionary buffers, and to a lesser extent, for investments in the equity market.
Banks’ exposures to household investors have also risen slightly from pre-pandemic levels to 13.7 per cent of overall banking system loans (December 2020: 13.6 per cent; December 2019: 13.3 per cent ).
However, the annual growth rate of banks’ housing loan exposures to owner-occupiers continued to outpace that of exposures to household investors (8.4 per cent and 5.2 per cent, respectively; December 2020: 8.7 per cent and 5 per cent ). So far, household investors are predominantly higher income earners who are typically more resilient to income shocks.
The average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of outstanding housing loans by household investors also remained relatively low and stable (54.8 per cent; December 2020: 54.9 per cent ), thus preserving ample buffers against a potential decline in house prices, it said.
Those earning less than RM5,000 are more highly leveraged
As for household financial assets, the report said that although it registered an annual growth of 5.4 per cent in June 2021 versus 7.2 per cent in December 2020; in level terms, aggregate financial assets declined between December 2020 and June 2021 by RM3 billion, mainly driven by overall retirement savings which were significantly lower due to the i-Sinar and i-Lestari programmes.