Bail out bus operators owing RM3 billion before they go bust, MATTA urges govt

PETALING JAYA: With 10,000 tour and express bus operators owing RM 3 billion to credit and leasing companies and not being given any form of loan moratorium, the industry will collapse if the government does not intervene soon, says the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA).

The organisation has urged Putrajaya to instruct these companies to immediately grant or extend the loan moratorium as advised by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Among others, it has asked the government to consider taking over debts raked up by bus operators in buying vehicles and financing their operations through credit companies, claiming that at least 1,200 buses in the northern region had been sold off to date.

MATTA president Tan Kok Liang said these operators have had no business since March when the nation was placed under the movement control order (MCO) and international borders closed, adding that they were still required to make repayments to credit and leasing firms.

“It’s ironic that despite being in the business of lending and leasing, credit and leasing companies are not regulated by Bank Negara.

“It has been more than six months that the tourism industry, in particular coach operators, has been highlighting this issue. Yet to date, no proactive action has been taken to tackle this serious issue,” he said in a statement today.

He added that MATTA first raised the problem in March after receiving complaints from association members that credit and leasing firms had “created their own rules” regarding loan repayments.

“Leasing and credit companies have created their own rules and practices in respect of moratoriums on repayment of loans instead of applying the directions issued by the central bank,” he said.

Following the tabling of the budget, groups of tour bus operators lodged police reports in Penang and also Putrajaya against the government for “failing” to help them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Northern Coalition of Tour Bus Operators’ chief Ahmad Ruslan Abdul Latiff said the government rubbed salt in their wounds when Budget 2021 ignored their pleas for help, especially in having their loan repayment moratoriums extended.