Student loan recovery needs better handling – Lungwangwa

Former University of Zambia (UNZA) deputy vice chancellor Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa says the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board (HELSB) should not handle the students’ loans recovery process in a mediocre manner.

And Prof Lungwangwa says the Board should also explain how it arrived at the 15 per cent interest rate to be paid by those who benefited from the loan scheme.

In an interview with News Diggers! Prof Lungwangwa, who is also UPND chairperson for the Education Committee, said the recovery of loans needed to be handled professionally.

“The decision to recover the loans since 2004 must be done professionally. The Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board should have a detailed data base of all the individuals that acquired loans from the government. For example, their names, when they were given the loan, how much they eventually ended up in terms of total amount of loans, how much is expected of them to pay with the 15 per cent interest rate, [just] that kind of information. So, that register must be replaced so that people should be able to [be] free to respect it,” Prof Lungwangwa said.

He said the Board should also explain how it arrived at the 15 per cent interest rate as well as the time frame for paying back.

“And then they should also explain how they arrived at 15 per cent interest rate [because] 15 per cent interest rate is quite high! Is that a fair interest rate? And even the time frame; the period of recovery [which is] four to 10 years I think, how did they arrive at all that? And then there are other pieces of information that they need to…for example, if people are not employed, what conditions have they put in place to address their predicament?” Prof Lungwangwa asked.

He said there was no way the Board would embark on a loan recovery just by putting a notice in the press without attending to the issues surrounding the subject.

“…And then we have the other issue of those who are unemployed or those who have passed away, again what is the position of the Higher Education Loans Board? So, these are matters of very high level professionalism and you just cannot embark on a loan recovery just by putting a notice in the press! You have to attend to the subject in a more professional manner like the way the banks do. When the banks give you a loan, first of all, you will have to understand the loan and then the recovery issues, and then you have somebody who is dealing with you. And if you have problems in terms of recovery [of if] you have certain difficulties, you explain to the bank or to the banker,” said Prof Lungwangwa.

“So the Higher Education Board, in my position or my view, should be a bit more professional. It should not handle this matter in a mediocre or amateurish way. So, there must be a register detailing who received the loan, how much they were getting each year?”

         

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