Govt to seize money of public servants who owe Education Loan Authority
The Education Loan Authority (ELA) is still owed $83 million in delinquent loans, said Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday, who also noted that the government intends to seize the salary of public servants who still owe money.
Lloyd made the revelation during his contribution to debate on the 2019/2020 budget.
“I’ve spoken about the ELA for a number of times and I’ve spoken about it because some 2,057 loans are outstanding to the tune of $83 million,” he said.
“There is a default rate of over 90 percent and a delinquency rate of almost one year, 275 days.
“Because of this very high default rate, the program was suspended in 2009, 10 years ago.
“We want to restart this program but we can’t because many of those 2,057 who owe money, won’t pay.
“We are going to go after them as we have and seek to prosecute them and require them to pay.
“I’m sad to say, Mr. Speaker, some of those who do not pay are public servants.
“They work for the government. We are going to seek the ways to have their salaries garnished.”
Former ELA Chairman Michael Foulkes had said that the authority had commenced legal action against delinquent loan holders who collectively owed $157 million.
Foulkes said there were more than 4,400 delinquent loans at the time.
He added that some of the recipients received up to $99,000 and had yet to make one “single, solitary payment”.
The accumulation of money owed dates back to the ELA’s inception in 2001.
Successive governments have claimed that they would pursue student loan repayment, but have failed to recover the money.
The Christie administration also threatened to take delinquent recipients to court.
Lloyd noted yesterday that despite having a “very generous incentive program,” which knocks off 40 percent of the money owed with no interest, people still are not coming in.
“So, we are working to remedy this,” he said.
“We want to restart this program. There are many, many, many persons who come to us asking for loans and we are going to do what we have to do to make it a success.”