Why MPs call for change in allocation of students loans

Wednesday May 1 2019

 

By The Citizen Reporter @TheCitizen.Tz news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The matter of how much money actually goes into development projects in the ministry of Education became the subject of debate in Parliament this week with MPs, both from the ruling party and Opposition, calling for a change in allocations in the ministry to provide the correct picture on the issue.

This was after the Education, Science and Technology minister, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, tabled her docket’s budget on Monday and revealed that Sh863 billion would go to fund development projects in the 2019/20 financial year. She said the development budget amounts to 62 per cent of the total budget of about Sh1.4 trillion, a rare feat in the Tanzanian budgetary process.

But it turned out that more than half of the development budget (Sh450 billion) would go to the Higher Students’ Loans Board (Heslb), which, according to the MPs, was not providing the correct picture of the actual amount going to fund development projects.

They, then, called for the creation of a separate budgetary vote for the Heslb to differentiate the funds allocated to the board from those that are set actually for development projects. This, they said, will also give the loans board some sort of financial autonomy.

The vice chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Services Juma Nkamia was the first to comment on the issue when he tabled the committee’s views on the budget. He said the call for the creation of a separate vote for Heslb was not new.

“For the umpteenth time, the committee proposes that the loans board gets its own vote, which would make all the difference in as far as budgetary issues are concerned,’’ Mr Nkamia said in Parliament on Monday.

Ms Suzan Lymo, the shadow Education minister, said when tabling her alternative budget speech that lumping together the Heslb funds with those of the development projects distorts the real picture of the development budget.

“When we hear that Sh800 billion has been allocated for development projects in the education sector we are really impressed until we realise that almost 60 per cent of it goes to pay for students loans. Only a paltry 40 per cent of the money goes to the actual development projects. It is time to create a separate vote for students’ loans,” Ms Lyimo said in her speech on Monday.

Heslb is expected to provide loans to additional 6,000 beneficiaries in the 2019/20 financial year. In total 129,285 beneficiaries are expected to benefit in the next financial year. On creating a separate vote for Heslb the minister for Finance Dr Philip Mpango directed the board to prepare a write-up on the issue matter. “In their write-up they should have adhere to a framework provided by the Public Service and Good Governance to ensure the money are used as intended,” Dr Mpango said yesterday when responding to issues raised by MPs.