Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) has said it will remain firm on the use of law enforcement agencies to deal with perennial loan defaulters.
According to a press release from HELB, the Board stated that Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed’s statement on partnering with law enforcement agencies to track down loan defaulters was taken out of context.
“Consequently there was public uproar mainly as a result of the CS comment being taken out of context and misconstrued. The focus of the statement however is to promote compliance, integrity and to ensure access to funds for future loan applicants from needy backgrounds…” read part of the press release.
According to HELB, law enforcement agencies are government agencies responsible for enforcing the law. The police force is just but one of such enforcement agencies.
“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions exercises state powers of prosecution of crimes either directly or through delegation of its authority to other state agencies. Several public institutions have such delegated authority to prosecute. They include NHIF, NSSF, KEBS and HELB to name but a few. Before 2010, public prosecutions were being undertaken by the Office of the Attorney-General, who had then gazetted some HELB staff as public prosecutors to prosecute offences under HELB Act…” read the press release.
In the statement signed by HELB CEO, Charles Ringera, loan repayment is not just a statutory obligation but is an issue of integrity and shows respect for statutory obligations arising under various Acts of Parliament. He added that HELB funds are meant to finance higher education for needy and deserving Kenyans not to be withheld for personal benefit.
“It is important to emphasize that engaging the support of law enforcement agencies is predominantly
to deal with perennial loan defaulters particularly those who are employed and promote compliance
and integrity in loan repayment. This is the only way we can fulfil the promise of empowering
Penalties to defaulters
The board warned that defaulters found guilty of an offence will be liable to a fine of not less than five thousand shillings in respect of each loan deduction that remains unpaid.
Employers who fail to inform the Board that they have a HELB loanee in their employment shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not less than three thousand shillings for each month that he fails to notify the Board of such employment.
An employer fails to deduct loan repayments from a loanee or does not pay such deductions to the Board he/she shall pay a sum equal to five percent of the total amount of the repayment for each month that the repayment remains unpaid.
HELB advised loanees to communicate with the Board incase of any trouble in making payments so as to avoid being penalised.
Penalties are not levied under the following circumstances.
Beneficiaries within the moratorium period of one year
Beneficiaries under mandatory internship for specified internship period
Loanees in the disciplined forces and are under the specified training duration as will be guided from time to time.
Beneficiaries on deferred studies due to Illness