KUCHING: Individual borrowers in the state are encouraged to seek advice and assistance in managing their finances and debts from Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK).
Head of AKPK Sarawak Region Marlene Margaret Nichol said the agency, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank Negara Malaysia, offers free-of-charge services not just to borrowers but also potential borrowers.
She pointed out that AKPK offers financial education on the responsible use of credit and basic money management skills, saying it’s financial education programmes include ad-hoc tailor-made talks and briefings to various target groups, a personal financial management education programme (which normally targets university students) and the POWER1 programme, designed to equip individuals with essential financial knowledge and ability to make responsible financial decisions.
Margaret said it also gives counselling and advice on financial management, including financial budgeting to manage expenses.
Besides that, she added, AKPK also offers Debt Management Programme (DMP) to assist financially distressed consumers in regaining their financial control.
“Borrowers and potential borrowers in Sarawak who require our services can come forward to AKPK Sarawak Region office anytime during weekdays,” she said.
Among others, she said individual borrowers can seek AKPK’s assistance in rescheduling their house loans, hire purchase loans and personal loans from, or outstanding credit/charge card balances due to, financial service providers under the purview of Bank Negara Malaysia.
She said since its inception in April 2006 to April 30 this year, some 266,450 individuals nationwide had attended AKPK’s counselling services, out of which 107,264 had applied to enrol for its DMP.
She, however, lamented that many borrowers in Sarawak were still not aware of AKPK’s services.
Between April 2006 and April 30 this year, she said only about 8,500 individuals in the state had attended the counselling services and about 3,000 had undergone the DMP.
“Consumers who approach AKPK for assistance are from all walks of life,” she added.
Margaret said in most cases, the factors contributing to their over-indebtedness and inability to pay their debts include poor financial management, ignorance and lack of financial discipline to live within their means.
She noted that financial difficulties could also be triggered by unanticipated or change in circumstances such as health problems, death of a breadwinner, loss of employment and business failure. AKPK’s consumer education programme aims to nurture more financially astute borrowers and at the same time promote good payment and repayment culture.
“Increasing consumers’ financial literacy enhances their appreciation for the need to save, which serves as the basis for wealth accumulation, preparedness for financial uncertainties and a comfortable retirement,” said Margaret.
She pointed out that AKPK’s goal is to provide a variety of educational services designed to help individuals take control of their finances and gain peace of mind that comes from the wise use of credit.
She added that by promoting awareness and educating the public on how to manage their debts, as well as providing counselling and specially tailored DMP to cater to financially burden individuals, AKPK hopes to help curb the finance-related issues faced by Malaysian households today.