Student Loans Recovery Remains Challenge

| May 28, 2015

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) is still to employ some means in an endevour to collect millions of Pula owed by former students who benefitted from government sponsorship for tertiary education.

Presenting before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Monday, May 25, permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Richard Matlhare said despite concerted efforts to recover the money, their determinations were not receiving anticipated results as they have little to show.

He noted that their tracking system was failing them in that attempts to gather information from banks and other institutions to assist in tracking beneficiaries was received with a cold shoulder as officials were not prepared to divulged information to a third party.

He however said with the introduction of a legislation to force such institutions to disclose such information, it will be a great achievement as they will be able to recover substantial amount of money owed to the government.

Meanwhile, Mr Matlhare said they intend to partner with Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) in an attempt to further scout for sponsorship loan defaulters, whom he said currently owe a significant amount of money which he did not disclose. What he disclosed to the committee, he admitted, was only an estimated figure.

On other issues, Mr Matlhare said the ministry engaged a system by the name of Oracle which has been recommended for dealing with the problem of overpayment of ex-employees.

Although he said the operation is proving to be effective, still about P3.8 million was paid to ghost employees. Nonetheless, he said the ministry was also undergoing various special audits as a means of self-introspection.

Meanwhile, a member of the PAC who is also the MP for Tati East, Mr Guma Moyo encouraged the ministry to hasten to install its sponsorship loan recovery system because very soon the government will not be in a position to sponsor further students for tertiary education as coffers might dry up. He noted that the government cannot continue to pump in huge sums of money and fail to recover same.

Responding to a concern raised by another member Mr Dithapelo Keorapetse as to whether the education system in Botswana was not in crisis because of the numerous challenges it was facing, Mr Matlhare said although there were trials and tribulations there were facing, the situation cannot be termed as crisis moreso that efforts were being put in place to address them.

He further told the committee that government was addressing the pay structure disparities between staff at University of Botswana (UB) and Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) where the latter has a very lucrative salary structure.

Members had queried as to why this was the case and voiced concern that it should be addressed as a matter of urgency moreso that UB was losing most of its staff to BIUST.

PAC was also informed that the ministry has started decentralising some of its operations and this included empowering regional offices to have and control their budgets.

This would also transcend to head teachers to allow them to have control over their own budgets.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: News

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