KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 -- Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has urged Putrajaya to take more proactive steps to address the increase in non-performing loans (NPL) before they spiral out of control.

The Rantau assemblyman, fondly known as Tok Mat, said one of the primary effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the increase of NPLs to RM28.7 billion by the end of last year, making it a nine-year high.

"For households, the loss of income and unemployment impaired the ability to service loan commitments especially for those highly-indebted individuals, contributing to a rise in impaired loans," he said in a statement.

As for the industrial sectors, Tok Mat said the default in loan repayment among business borrowers has been c...