Dar es Salaam. The Higher Education Student Loans Board (Heslb) has come up with a new campaign aimed at helping it raise around Sh185 billion as repayment from loan beneficiaries in the financial year 2021/22, the institution revealed to The Citizen yesterday.
Dubbed by the Swahili name ‘Sifurisha’ which means to make the beneficiaries completely settle their debts (bring to zero), the campaign follows the government’s abolition of various levies that were considered a burden on the loan beneficiaries.
From July 1, this year, the ministry of Education decided to scrap some of the charges on the education loans as implementation of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s new directives on higher education loans.
The six percent charge in value retention was scrapped, with the Heslb’s board of directors instructed to also scrap the 10 percent penalty charged on loan beneficiaries for delayed loan servicing.
The move meant that thousands of debtors, who were required to pay millions in return, were now relieved. However, it was inevitable that Heslb had to devise new methods that would keep it at the same pace of debt collection with the aim of helping to expand the scope of loan allocations each year.
“This campaign is triggered by the many debtors who intend to completely settle their debts after the levy was removed, so we came up with an easy way to motivate them and others to settle their remaining arrears,” Ms Veneranda Malima, Heslb communications officer revealed in an interview.
She said that they have planned to have outstations in various regions in the country to facilitate the beneficiaries with answers on how they can repay their debts.
“We will have outstations in each and every region beginning with Dar es Salaam and Arusha in the quarter one of the campaign before rolling it out to other regions. This will be specifically for repayments of loans,” she said.
Ms Malima said that Heslb was not ready to apply its strict rules on debt collection but aimed at forming relationships with their clients with the aim of making them understand the importance of repaying all their debts.
“We cannot apply the law now but through these campaigns, we want the beneficiaries to be responsible and settle their loans to help maintain the scope of funding given that now there were no levies,” she said.
However, Ms Malima explained that given the current collection situation, they are confident of achieving the target and possibly exceeding the target of Sh185 billion at the end of the financial year 2021/22.
“We remind employers to be responsible and send 15 percent of the monthly income from the salaries of their employees who are our clients and haven’t settled their debts,” she reiterated.