The Namibian (Windhoek)

22 February 2013

Namibia: N$375 Million Outstanding in Study Loans

MALADMINISTRATION is jeopardising the operations of the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) and resulted in the fund accumulating over N$375 milion in dues in the 2010/2012 financial year, Auditor General Junius Kandjeke has found.

The report on the administration of government loans through NSFAF found that the fund was owed in excess of N$200 million annually for each of the four consecutive financial years ended 2010/2011.

The fund was owed N$210 240 597 in the 2007/2008 financial year, N$249 595 480 in 2008/2009, N$ 313 886 493 in 2009/2010 and N$ 375 717 569 in 2010/2011.

The fund has been failing dismally to meet its objective to at least recover N$10 million annually from its debtors.

The report that was tabled in the National Assembly by Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila found various shortcomings in the operations of the fund that make it difficult for it to function properly.

These also include a flawed computer system, poor record keeping, lack of control, understaffing, failure to comply with application closing dates, increases in loans awarded, poor dissemination of information and ineffective loan recovery processes.

The report concluded that this state of affairs is seriously jeopardising the sustainability of the fund.

The AG's office recommended that defaulters who fail to provide adequate reasons for non-payment should be handed over to the government attorney's office for breach of contract after two reminders.

Only 249 files of defaulters were transferred to the government attorney's office during the period under review.

The random analysis by the AG's office of 102 of the 249 files, amounting to a debt of about N$1.9 million, found that 79% of the files had no contracts while only seven percent of debtors were regular payers. A total of 12% stopped payments because of various reasons.

The NSFAF also failed to account for a substantial number of files while others were not transferred to the recovery division in time.

New loan applicants increased from 1 284 in 1997 when the fund was established to 6 330 in 2011 but the staff complement remained static.

The AG's office suggests that defaulters should be blacklisted while the fund "must develop a disaster management plan, approved filing system, file security and backup for files to be stored at a remote, safe and secure site."

The NSFAF is the fund that provides financial assistance to Namibian students from disadvantaged backgrounds for studies at tertiary level.

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