Few UG student loan borrowers repaying under Jubilee offer
A less than satisfactory number of University of Guyana (UG) students and former students have taken advantage of the Independence Jubilee reduced tuition fee repayments, resulting in the Guyana government being still saddled with a huge number of outstanding student loans, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said Monday.
Addressing the launch of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s (GT&T) Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) system that will allow the repayment of student loans by cellular phones, Finance Minister Winston Jordan said of the nearly GYD$10 billion worth of 28,936 loans issued so far since 1994, 20,301 are delinquent.
Jordan said despite the “substantial rebates” offered to graduates in Guyana and overseas last year as part of Guyana’s 50th Independence anniversary celebration, few did not take advantage of the opportunity to clear, update their debts.
“I don’t think there has been a significant dent to what I gave at the last time….There was some exuberance at the offer but it didn’t get the kind of response that we were hoping for where a significant dent would have been made. We did get some money in but it’s not significant to what is owing,” he said.
Before signing the MMG agreement, GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer Justin Nedd said all current and past students have to do to repay their tuition loans is to enter their UG registration number, the amount they would like to pay and press send.
The Finance Minister welcomed the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s extension of the “fast and secure” Mobile Money Guyana system to offer past and continuing students a new option to repay their loans. Jordan announced that, “very soon borrowers from abroad will be able to make payments online as we are in talks with GT&T and Western Union.
The Finance Minister warned that if the loans are not repaid and the student loan system does not revolve, government would have to examine “other methods which unfortunately will not be to the benefit of those said people who want to come to university.”
Figures dating back to last year show that since the inception of the Student Loan Agency in 1994, at least GYD$9.5 billion were made available to the revolving agency to facilitate the payment of tuition fees. Up to May, 2016 figures show that 26,239 loans had been issued but repayment up the same period had amounted to GYD$1.75 billion, with installments due amounting to GYD$5.7 billion.
The Jubilee offer had entailed a 75 percent reduction in the accumulated arrears of interest if borrowers had paid their indebtedness no later than August 31, 2016 or a 50 percent reduction in accumulated arrears of interest if borrowers had brought their accounts up to date by September 30, 2016.
At the Ministry of Finance’s Student Loan Office, Jordan said there are a new director, new administrative manager and more loan officers. Other plans include the appointment of more loan officers, a lawyer and an accountant as well as the introduction of a new computerized system “to replace the ancient technology currently in place.” The Finance Minister added that the “massive reforms” to ensure that funding is available to future borrowers include the refinement of the criteria for qualification and guaranteeing of loans.
“The recalcitrance and disinterest that is inherent in the unacceptably large delinquent portfolio must be halted. Students, graduates and guarantors have to work together to reverse this situation. The government has shown its willingness to be engaged and has already provided the first steps,” said Jordan.
UG Students can now repay loans using MMG App
The Ministry of Finance has partnered with the University of Guyana and the GuyanaTelephone and Telegraph Company to offer current and former students, an easier option to repay their student loans. The partnership is described by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan as another in a series of initiatives, to have students repay their debts in a fast and secure manner.
The Minister noted that during the Jubilee Independence Anniversary celebrations, several options were put in place to have errant loan defaulters repay their debts. He said it was regrettable that many did not take advantage of the offer. This has resulted in the Government being left with a huge number of outstanding student loans, he explained.
At the launching of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph’s (GT&T) Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) system that will allow the repayment of student loans by cellular phones, the Finance Minister said that approximately G$10 billion worth of 28,936 loans issued since 1994, 20, 301, remain outstanding. He is hopeful that loan defaulters would take advantage of the new payment option.
He stated, “I don’t think there has been a significant dent to what I gave at the last time….There was some exuberance at the offer but it didn’t get the kind of response that we were hoping for where a significant dent would have been made. We did get some money in but it’s not significant to what is owing.”
The Jubilee Offer gave defaulters a 75 per cent reduction in the accumulated arrears of interest if they had paid their indebtedness, no later than August 31, 2016 or a 50 percent reduction in accumulated arrears of interest if borrowers had brought their accounts up to date by September 30, 2016.
The Finance Minister says he is currently working with Western Union to facilitate payments for those former students residing overseas and this will be launched soon. The criteria for issuing loans and potential guarantors, is also being restructured, so as to facilitate easier payments.
The MMG agreement was described as a very simple process by GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer Justin Nedd. He explained that, “All current and past students have to do to repay their tuition loans is to enter their UG registration number, the amount they would like to pay and press send. The new option adds to the facility already being used by thousands to pay various utility bills. The GTT CEO described the new plan as just one of the many ways the company is using technology to improve the lives of Guyanese. The Mobile Money Guyana Application, is also in keeping, with a call by President David Granger, to use technology to extend the reach of financial services to underserved and un-served communities.
Among those present at today’s event were Minister within the Ministry of Finance Jaipaul Sharma, University of Guyana Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Griffith and staffers of UG and GTT.
Article adapted from: http://gina.gov.gy/ug-students-can-now-repay-loans-using-mmg-app/
- The University of Guyana