KUALA LUMPUR: It is imperative that the government address complaints related to wages and compensation among graduates, which is closely linked to issues involving repayment of National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said, based on a report compiled by Bank Negara Malaysia and Khazanah Research Institute, the country has been suffering from wage stagnancy, especially among graduates, which is compounded by the present rate of inflation.

“The question is what can be done?

“In my speech during the National Youth Day celebration, I stressed on the need for the introduction of a policy on income incentives or income supplement (among graduates).

“Instead of giving one-off handouts such as BR1M, we should give the corporate sector income incentives, encouraging them to hire unemployed graduates with the government covering a portion of the income.

“This policy has been implemented in Singapore successfully.

“The policy has also helped Singapore lure investment from international companies such as Dyson since the country has a policy on income incentives in place and that it is able to provide employment opportunities for its TVET (technical and vocational education and training) graduates,” he said after the launch of TV3’s Grand Bazar Ramadan Raya 2019 here today.

Syed Saddiq said the Finance Ministry was looking into his proposal, which he described as one of the many ways to help graduates earn a better living, apart from solving issues related to PTPTN loan repayment.

“There has been a lot of discussion around it (his proposal), but the final decision will be made by the Cabinet.

“Let us wait for Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to make the announcement,” he said adding that there were 500,000 unemployed youths, including 300,000 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia school leavers.

Syed Saddiq said he did not agree with quarters labeling PTPTN loan defaulters as an irresponsible group which prioritises a lavish lifestyle instead of repaying their loans.

“To be fair, we cannot simply generalise the youth. “Obviously, for those who can afford or earn RM4,000 income and above, they must pay (their PTPTN loans).

“I met one group of interns who earn between RM300 and RM400, as well as those who have yet to have a stable job, or part-timers earning RM900 in wages.

It is unfair to ask them to start repaying their loans.

“The group which I met genuinely need help. They are victims of circumstance,” he said adding that the government must intervene instead of punishing youths who need assistance.