Establishing a database of employees who benefitted from university students’ loan schemes is at 90 percent. However, there are still difficulties in tracing beneficiaries working in the informal sector and those who are self-employed.
This was revealed by Pitchette Kampeta Sayinzoga, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD).
“We are coming up with fresh measures to discover where all beneficiaries are located,” she added.
Sayinzoga shared the progress when BRD and Higher Education Council (HEC) officials recently appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to queries contained in the Auditor General’s report of 2020/21.
According to the report, there is low recovery of students’ loans and this affects plans to provide loans to more students who are in need of support to pursue higher education.
By mid-last year, the bank had recovered only Rwf24.4 billion out of the total disbursement of Rwf221.85 billion.
The number of loan beneficiaries was 139,925 whereas only 18,626 had paid back the loan, which represents just 13.3 per cent.
The number excludes the disabled and the deceased whose loans were either waived or written off.
Among the challenges that the bank was facing is the missing and inaccurate students’ data who benefitted from the scheme since 1980 as per the law.
This makes it hard to trace the loan beneficiaries, but the institution said it is embarking on integrating with more stakeholders like Rwanda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Social Security Board, National ID Agency and Credit Reference Bureau to get additional data, and collaborate with the Foreign Affairs Ministry to put in place mechanisms to bring on board beneficiaries including those living abroad so that they start paying back.
“We have no information about the whereabouts of some loan beneficiaries. The data base for beneficiaries of whom we know exactly where they are currently employed is at 90 percent.
“We are going to establish a database for individuals-the loan beneficiaries who are not employed in any institution but are self-employed and those in the informal sector,” Kampeta said.
BRD is also pushing for reforms to the law that governs the students’ loan scheme in order to establish and enforce penalties to defaulters.
Loans, stipends to ‘ghost students’
According to the auditor general, the list of students who have dropped out of university, those who passed on, those who suspended and those who repeat classes doesn’t indicate dates and MPs expressed concerns that such students might be still getting loans and stipend while they are no longer studying.
The report also shows that some 3,759 students were given loans and stipend but it is not written or documented anywhere.
It also shows that 6,519 students’ names were duplicated (written twice) on the loan beneficiaries list meaning that the list is not credible.
Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of Higher Education Council (HEC), said that they are going to work with the university so that updates about loan beneficiaries are shared on time.
“The university should give us, on time, the updates of students to ensure stipend is given to those who are still studying because sometimes we do not get the updates on time,” she said.
BRD officials told PAC members that they have already established a system which ensures daily updates of students to get loans and stipends.