HIGHER Education Minister Dr Brian Mushimba has announced that all university loan beneficiaries are required to repay their loans within a four to 10-year period.
And Dr Mushimba has cautioned some members of parliament, who may have been among recipients of student loans to repay their debts, failure to which he would expose them for possible sanctions.
Dr Mushimba cautioned that any beneficiary of the loans scheme, who did not repay the money to government’s revolving fund beyond the amnesty period, would draw a penalty for each day they did not show themselves and start paying back, whether they were in formal or informal employment.
Dr Mushimba has, however, asked those that benefited from the fund and were not in employment yet to go through to the Ministry and present their cases.
Rendering a Ministerial statement to Parliament, Wednesday, Dr Mushimba announced that university loan beneficiaries were required to repay their loans within a four to 10-year period.
“Mr Speaker, since 2004, over 45,000 students have been supported through the student loan scheme across our public universities. In 2018, the Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board (HELSB) started the process of recovering these loans as per their mandate. They started with all the beneficiaries that are in the civil service and through the government pay roll system and they keep identifying all those that benefited from this facility that are on government payroll. Last year, ZRA, NAPSA and the formal banking sectors, immigration departments, utilities, such as Lusaka Water or DsTV further were incorporated in the process of tracking everyone who accessed the loans from 2004 via their NRCs,” Dr Mushimba said.
“Mr Speaker, the recipients of the loans are expected to pay back their loans in totality over a period of four to 10 years, with a 15 per cent interest that accounts for the lost value of money over time and the administration of the loan scheme. The monies we have recovered so far, Mr Speaker, of over K52.9 million has supported an additional 1,432 students that, otherwise, would not have received sponsorship from government.”
And he cautioned some members of parliament, who may have been among recipients of student loans, to pay their debts, failure to which he would expose them for possible sanctions.
“A tool is now being consolidated that will integrate into all these institutions to ensure all beneficiaries are tracked, identified and asked to start paying back, those that are not paying back already. If we have any honourable members of parliament in here that accessed the loan facility from 2004 upwards and have not started paying back yet, I ask that they see me so that we can have them signed up and start paying back! Next time I come back to the House, I will come with a list of all defaulting members of parliament for the Speaker to sanction them! The amnesty period for self-identification and coming forward will end soon and all those that would not have come forward beyond the amnesty period will draw a penalty for each day they don’t show themselves and start paying back, whether they are in formal or informal employment,” Dr Mushimba disclosed.
He also announced that government had recovered a total of K49.5 million from beneficiaries that had graduated since the fund recoveries started.
“From the time Higher Education Loans and Scholarships Board commenced the recoveries in 2018, a total of K49.5 million has been recovered from government payroll from civil servants. Other recoveries outside government payroll system or from the private sector amount to a total of K3.4 million for the same period, bringing the total in recoveries to K52.9 million that has been recovered from 2018 to end of January, 2020,” said Dr Mushimba. “It’s worth noting that some of the recoveries from the private sector, Mr Speaker, actually from individuals that have come forward on their own accord and they’ve paid. I would like to recognize and thank these individuals for their patriotism and for leading the rest of us to pay back what we owe. It’s such personal conviction, values and integrity that this loan scheme depends on for its future success. The ownership by all of us that took these loans to want to pay back without government sending the police or me bringing names to Parliament is absolutely a necessity.”