Gov’t clarifies position on UG loan debtors

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State Minister Joseph Harmon says there will be no blacklisting or preventing of travel of former or present University of Guyana (UG) students who would have taken a loan from the government.

 

During the opening of the new student loan facility, last week, the Finance Minister said among plans to recover monies owed to the University is a possible restriction on travelling out of Guyana.

 

He noted that “loans will be given only to Guyanese students, residents in Guyana for 180 days continuously within a calendar year…all information on borrowers will be eventually put at all immigration points and we will also set up a desk at the same time for those who will be stopped from travelling to make the necessary arrangements or payment prior to departure.”

 

Minister Harmon confirmed that issues surrounding student loans and the laid back approach of some borrowers to repay their loans were discussed at cabinet.

 

However, he noted that “there is no intention at all in what has been proposed to affect the constitutional right of any person to free travel in and out of Guyana. There is no sort of blacklisting in that way” Minister Harmon said on Thursday as he explained what was proposed to ensure that past and present students of the University repay their student loans.”

 

“It’s not like we are going to lock up people and all those kinds of things but it is about encouraging you to honour your obligations and to recognise that if you do not repay, you are preventing young people coming into the system from benefiting from those things from which you benefit,” he added.

 

As of May this year over 26 thousand loans have been issued by the Student Loan Agency, Finance Minister Winston Jordan confirmed last week.

 

However, the repayment of such loans amounts to just over one billion dollars with instalments due at 5.7 billion dollars.

 

Other measures highlighted by the Finance Minister include; borrowers who wish to switch from one programme to another must now pay off the full sum of all outstanding loans before accessing a new loan;  letters of notifications are to be sent to borrowers informing of their balances; In the event of a failure to respond positively by the borrowers, after a reasonable period has elapsed…the government will exercise all options to recover the debt including litigation; where students cannot be located or have failed to respond to written and oral communication, the student loan agency will send communication to the guarantors; Guarantors will also now be required to produce liability statements or reports from the credit bureau; once students have secured employment, they will now be required to start payment on or before the one year grace period.

 

On the other hand, the Minister said “consideration will be given to a scheme wherein a borrower who serves continuously for five years, after graduation in designated areas away from his or her normal place of residence (e.g. a borrower normally resident in region four serving in regions 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 or 10 can have the entire balance written off at the end of the five-year period.”

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