First Look

Talk less and act more Minister Thwaites says G2K



G2K | 2014-08-15 00:00:00

Generation 2000 (G2K), the Young Professional affiliate of the Jamaica Labour Party today expressed grave concern at the persistent inability of the Student Loan Bureau (SLB) to service the needs of qualified applicants and the devasting impact that that this will have on tertiary education. The organisation called upon the Minister of Education to outline a comprehensive plan to bring viability to the (SLB) while ensuring the sustainability of the tertiary education.

SLB being unraveled by Government Action

G2K notes that the Minister of Education has admitted that the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) has fallen short of the amount it needs to service new applications by approximately $1 billion. The organisation is of the view that this unraveling of the SLB is a direct result from the $1 Billion in cuts that the Minister’s own administration made to the SLB’s budgetary allocation earlier this year.

Mr. Green said “The Government is reaping the seeds of contraction that it has sewn across the country, unfortunately it is the tertiary student who cannot afford to pursue his/her dream that will feel the pain. If Dr. Phillips had taken the time to undertake comprehensive taxation reform and implement measures truly expected to create jobs, then maybe he would have been able to secure a stable source of funding for the Bureau”

Side Stepping Difficult Decisions

The Organisation further noted that while Minister Thwaites talks a good talk, he is yet to point to action that he has taken to ensure that the SLB returns to viability. His latest suggestion regarding raiding the coffers of the HEART Trust has come with no timeline and no information as to how this would be made sustainable or how it would impact the Trust. To date, the Minister has not even addressed the issues of ensuring the Student Loan is being run efficiently.

“It is sad that this latest revelation comes against the background of a SLB who recently relocated to the New Kingston Commercial District and an expensive rental space at the Sagicor Sigma Building. To date the Minster is yet to state how much is being paid in rent, how the location was selected, why there was a move in the first place and how much did the move cost taxpayer? It cannot be on the one hand there is not enough money to lend to deserving children while the bureau is wasting the money on amenities”  continued Green. 

Long Term Solution

The organization notes that neither the Minister of Finance nor Minister of Education is yet to outline how the SLB fix the structural flaws that are at the root of its inefficiency. G2K is again urging the Government to consider the following long term solutions
• Exclude Education Tax from the remit of the Consolidated Fund and see to the establishment of an Education Fund to address the needs of the entire education spectrum. This could provide the Government with the much needed equity to attract education specific loans to help finance tertiary Education.
• Reduce the repayment burden on students - this has been  proven to increase repayment levels
• Re-examine the operational expenses of the Student Loan Bureau and tertiary institutions to improve efficiency and cost saving.
• See to the establishment of a Private-Public Tertiary Education Trust Fund to which Nationals can make contributions and claim benefits
• Curtail Government Spending by reducing the size of the Cabinet, cutting spending on consultants, reducing foreign travel and then channel those savings into the Bureau.

 




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