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MP seeks to shield unemployed graduates from paying Helb interest

MPs now want university students who fail to get employment upon graduation to be shielded from paying interest on loans from the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).

The Higher Education Loans (Amendment) Bill by Kiharu MP Mr Irungu Kangata also seeks to incorporate students in the management of the loans by reserving two seats for them in the board.

The MP also proposed changes to protect the fund from abuse by suggesting that unemployed graduates sign affidavits, which are renewable annually, indicating that they are jobless and shield them from being charged interest on loans advanced to them.

PERJURY

“The affidavits will ensure those who abuse the provision by stating there are jobless, when they have a source of income, be charged with perjury,” he said.

The Bill, which was hailed by MPs as pro-poor, also gives preference to regular students in public universities over those pursuing parallel programmes or in private universities.

MPs were of the view that regular students in public universities are admitted on merit and are mostly from poor backgrounds.

In the proposed changes, students on parallel programmes and private universities, usually admitted on account of their financial ability, would also be entitled to the Helb loans but evidence would be required to ascertain that they can not afford the fee.

MPs however rejected a proposal by Makadara MP Mr Benson Mutura to include a representative of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance in the Helb board.

 

NOT RECOGNIZED

The proposal was opposed by among others Rarieda MP Mr Nicholas Gumbo, who protested that Kepsa was not recognized in law.

“We will be trending on dangerous grounds if we allow all manner of organisations not recognized in law to sit in the board of public institutions,” he said.

Mr Mutura had argued that Kepsa, being the umbrella body of employers in the private sector, needed to be represented in the board to help in recovery of loans from newly recruited employees.