Why HELB must change the way it deals with loan defaulters

By Marcus Waweru | Thursday, Nov 21st 2019 at 09:02
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The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) should reconsider its approach towards its students’ loan recovery policy, if it is to remain self-sufficient and effective. Recent news that HELB will publish names and photos of defaulters in leading dailies sounded absurd to me.

This is not what would be considered to be a progressive approach to loan recovery in any modern society. This is a retrogressive, inefficient, archaic and terribly lazy policy that only confirms HELB’s lack of imagination and a dearth in the use of modern and practical methods of loan recovery within the agency.

That people took to social media to volunteer their photos to help HELB in its endeavour, confirms the folly of the exercise. It makes a mockery of the proposed move. I think the agency should consider issuing a full waiver on both penalties and interests for outstanding loans, for a period of 90 days.

This is a very simple approach. It has proved successful for other institutions like county governments that always waive penalties on accrued land rates. It doesn’t embarrass the institution and the loan beneficiaries.

In the past, HELB had issued a partial 80 per cent waiver on penalties. But it failed to waive interest accrued, leaving defaulters complaining that the loan burden is still heavy. In an age when most people in the country are feeling the pinch of a slowing economy, a waiver on both penalties and interest will offer beneficiaries great relief.

They will actually be encouraged to repay the principle amount they borrowed while in college. Personally I feel HELB must stop operating like a bank. The idea to collect interest and penalties on disbursed loans is ill-thought.

The mandate that HELB should busy itself with, is ensuring loans that were advanced to students are recouped on time so that others in colleges can benefit. HELB, then, must overlook the allure of having a fat bank account and focus on this core mandate. 

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