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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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MPs back a proposal to have recipients of Helb start repaying only after getting employed

Helb beneficiaries will start repaying their university loans only after securing employment if a proposal by parliament goes through.

The Higher Education Loans Board (Amendment) Bill, sponsored by Igembe South MP Paul Mwirigi, seeks to eliminate any penalties imposed on defaulting beneficiaries who have yet to secure formal employment.

The bill is currently being read for the second time.

The existing system, in which Helb beneficiaries are fined Sh5,000 per month in fines if they do not pay within a year of finishing a course, is described by the lawmaker as unfair.

Mwirigi described his proposed revisions on Wednesday as critical assistance for thousands of jobless adolescents who have been designated by the Credit Reference Bureau as non-paying.

He claims that only a small percentage of graduates find work within a year of graduation.

“Currently it is very difficult for a graduate to secure a job without Helb clearance documents. This has made it more difficult for graduates,” Mwirigi said.

MPs backed the proposal saying the current regime is infringing on the beneficiaries calling for a relaxed window period for the commencement of the repayment.

However, the Bill was opposed by the Education Committee warning.

it risks weakening Helb in the face of reduced government funding.

The committee chairperson Florence Mutua told the House the loans board is yet to recover Sh10.5 billion from defaulters.

“Going by this trend, Helb is going to collapse and as a committee having considered the amendment clause by clause, the proposed amendments are objectionable as it will weaken the Helb,” she said

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