24 May 2019 12:00pm
WINDHOEK, 24 MAY (NAMPA) Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) beneficiaries who owe the fund should be held accountable for the current shortfall of N.dollars 641 million, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein has said.
During the 2019 academic year NSFAF will only grant financial assistance to 19 per cent of its new eligible applicants, due to a shortfall in its 2019/20 budget.
Speaking at a media conference here on Thursday, Schlettwein explained that prior to the tabling of the National Budget in March, Government agreed to only subsidise NSFAF to the tune of N.dollars 1.1 billion - the same amount it was given the previous year.
He noted that NSFAF was then directed to source the over N.dollars 400 million dollar shortfall from its beneficiaries.
NSFAF has arrears to the score of N.dollars 400 million on its loan books and we directed them to enhance liabilities by collecting the arrears and for those debts to fund the shortfalls. That will bring the total amount to what they actually need for the year, he explained.
He further noted that the directive to NSFAF to collect the arrears was because Government realised that it was not a prudent policy to finance arrears through taxpayer money because that incentivises them to not collect the arrears.
We believe that those who are in arrears should be brought to the table to pay up because they are the ones who caused the underfunding of NSFAF, not the government, Schlettwein said.
He further noted that NSFAF in 2018 got a bailout of N.dollars 150 million of which part of that money rolled over to the allocated budget of N.dollars 1.1 billion.
He noted that perhaps not everyone can pay back the loan, however there are NSFAF beneficiaries who can pay back their loans.
We must learn to live within our means. N.dollars 1.1 billion is not a small amount and maybe we must look into the quality of spending and find ways of collecting the arrears, the minister advised.
He said Government is discussing the matter to decide on a way forward.