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Relief for 80,000 as State waivers Helb penalties

George Kebaso @Morarak

The government yesterday announced a 100 per cent waiver on Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) penalties for the next one month. Consequently, Kenyans who owe Helb up to Sh8.2 billion are set to benefit from the waiver that became effective yesterday.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed announced the waiver in Nairobi during the launch of the agency’s employers’ portal. The 81, 994 defaulters have now been given until June 30, 2018 to clear their balances.

“I acknowledge, with gratitude, the tremendous work Helb has done in regard to Loan recoveries. However, it is a key concern for the Government as the defaulted amounts inhibit the Board’s ability to fund the growing number of new students joining higher education,” said Amina.

Amina urged employers to ensure university graduates working in their institutions repay their loans as a primary requirement. “I also call upon past beneficiaries of the university loan scheme to help educate other young Kenyans by repaying their loans.

This is the only way Helb can be able to fund more students,” she said. In 2016/2017 alone, the Board recovered Sh4.1 billion which accounted for 40 per cent of the Helb student financing budget of Sh10.2 billion for the year.

According to Helb Chief Executive Officer, Charles Ringera since 1974, about 396,680 loan accounts worth Sh47.5 billion have matured for repayment; while 264,000 loanees holding Sh24.5b have not matured.

He said out of the 396,680 loan accounts, a total of 175,003 loanees have completed their loan repayment valued at Sh16.7 billion.

“However, with the introduction of the Employers’ Portal – an online platform – has made it easier for Employers to check on their staff Helb loan repayment status and remit their repayments from the comfort of their offices,’’ Ringera said.

The portal will be used to upload employees payment information online. Through the portal, he said the employers will also be expected to regularly check that their workers are compliant with the Board’s regulations.

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