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Students urged to pay back their loans

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Delinquent students who have failed to honour their commitment to the state by repaying their university loans will be stoutly pursued by the government.{{more}}

This assurance came from Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves as he addressed the official opening of the Central Leeward Secondary School on Thursday, September 17, 2009. According to Gonsalves, one and a half percent of the students who received loans under the economically disadvantaged loan programme have not been true to their obligations.

“For the one and a half percent, we are looking for them to pay back the money that tax payers gave them to get their education and improve their lives,” Gonsalves said.

The economically disadvantaged loan programme was devised by the government in 2003 for students whose families do not have the assets necessary to secure student loans. This loan programme allows for students to borrow up to $120,000 without security. “As Minister of National Security, I signed as security, and people may say it’s a gamble…I even remember the Opposition saying I want to burst the treasury and throw away money,” he added.

Funds for the programme are provided by the National Insurance Services (NIS) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

However, the Finance Minister noted that 98.5 per cent of students have been paying back their loans and declared that he trusts the young people to remain faithful in repaying their dues. “If I can’t trust the young people to pay back $120,000 without any security, might as well I don’t be Prime Minister,” Gonsalves stated. “If we don’t take risks or trust one another, we will have no progress in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

A similar programme for public servants, teachers, police, nurses exists where they are provided with unsecured mortgage loans up to $150,000. That programme, the prime minister said is now under two percent in default payment.

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