THE Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) has said that over half of the applicants did not get loans this academic year due to a budget deficit of 28bn/- carried forward from last year.  “Last year, the Treasury failed to fully disburse the budget we required and as a result we started this financial year with a 28bn/- deficit which we deducted from the current one to meet last year’s debts,” said the Board’s Executive Director, Mr George Nyatega.

Mr Nyatega who was presenting the status of the board to the Parliamentary Public Organisations Accounts Committee (POAC) in Dar es Salaam on Monday noted that as a result over 51.9 per cent of loan applicants in this academic year did not secure loan.  “Had not it been for the deficit, we would have managed to have more students benefiting in this academic year,” he said.

Mr Nyatega, however, noted that the Treasury has in this first quarter of the financial year disbursed enough money to the board.

In another development, the committee has blamed the HESLB for failure to abide with the law which established the board leading to problems in loan issuance.

“Of late, it seems that the board is driven more by the government through the Minister for Education and Vocational Training and as a result the board is causing problems as some poor students are not benefiting,” said the Committee Acting Chairman, Mr Juma Abdallah Njwayo.

He noted that the law allows the minister to issue directives to the board but added that the directives should not be against the law.  “We better discuss the law in parliament for amendment but if it remains as it is, it should be respected,” he said.

The Mwibara Legislator, Mr Alphaxard Lugola, noted that the law gives equal opportunities to all the Tanzanian students who have qualified to join higher learning institutes to benefit from the loan issued by HESLB. “The law demands that a student must be a Tanzanian who has been admitted to a recognized institute but now the directives have altered the criterions coming up with difficult ones hindering many from benefiting,” he said.  Mr Lugola noted that the criteria now looked by the board which include, type of schools from where the loan seeker attained secondary education were not justifiable as some students might have secured sponsorships.

The Special Seat MP, Ms Christowaja Mtinda, also noted that even the current criterion which directs the board to give priority to students taking science was not being followed.

The HESLB Chairman of Board of Directors, Prof Anselm Lwoga, noted that the board has been adhering to the minister’s directives because the law allows the minister to issue directives.  He noted further that the criteria used this year in giving loans were in accordance to the recommendations given by the committee formed by President Jakaya Kikwete to probe and propose solutions to problems related to loan issuance.  “We mainly looked on the academic background of the applicant, the type of schools that they went through…,” he said


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