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Only one loan repaid, $2.3 million outstanding

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 10, 2009) – The Office of Higher Education (OHE) has stepped up efforts to recoup more than K6 million [US$2.3 million] loaned to students in higher education institutions between years 2000 to 2007.

The OHE is calling on former students who are now working in both the public and private sectors to start repaying the loans.

The OHE is collecting data of the former students and is exploring ways to recoup the loans, given out under the Government’s Tertiary Education Students Assistance Scheme (TESAS) which was put on hold for the past two years.

Director-General for OHE Dr William Tagis, when responding to a series of questions regarding the TESAS loans, stated that only one student had repaid his loan.

He said attempts were now being made to recoup the rest of the money and a public notice placed in the newspapers two weeks ago was OHE’s first attempt to get these people to cooperate and repay.

"The problem was that there was a misunderstanding in the OHE that the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) would recoup the monies through a graduate scheme tax placed on all graduates who benefitted from the loan, but this never eventuated and the loan couldn’t be made to be sustaining until recently,’’ Mr. Tagis said.

He said OHE had worked out a way for recouping the loans and had asked for students who had benefitted from the loan to contact OHE with their details so they would deal with the outstanding matter.

Dr Tagis also said the OHE had records, including the name of students and how much they owed them. He said before a student was to get a loan, a letter was presented to OHE from the student’s parents, guardians and guarantors who are respectable community leaders such as priests, church pastors and village councillors.

The idea was that in the event that the loan beneficiaries did not want to cooperate, the parents or the guarantors were to be contacted and asked to do something about the loan.

"All loan recipients had signed a contract with us and the loan was provided in good faith so they do have a responsibility to come back to us and repay the loan,’’ he said.

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