Beneficiaries of Heslb loans voice concerns over levies

Banks make deductions on withdrawals and transfers to mobile wallets

What you need to know:

  • Students at various universities leave on a tight budget and now a gloomy future after the new levies took effect

Dodoma. The beneficiaries of higher education loans have expressed the ordeal they may face when universities open next month following the introduction of electronic transaction levies, despite ongoing review efforts.

Citizens’ outcry forced the ruling CCM’s Central Committee (CC) to instruct its government to review the electronic transaction levies by listening to concerns from the public.

“It is indisputable truth that levies have enabled the government to implement several projects. For instance, the construction of 234 healthcare centres, 214 secondary schools and many other projects that touch citizens’ daily lives,” CCM ideology and publicity secretary Shaka Hamdu Shaka told reporters in Dodoma.

He added: “But, after contemplating and an in-depth discussion, the CC of the National Executive Council (NEC) has seen the importance of the government to listen to comments and advice of citizens on the budget execution especially in the area of electronic transaction levies.

Addressing a public rally in Sirari, Finance and Planning minister Mwigulu Nchemba said the government has formed a team of experts to review the controversial levies on electronic money transactions.

Further, reports have it that the ministry of Finance and Planning met with members of the Tanzania Mobile Network Operators Association (Tamnoa) in Dodoma on September 14.

“The two sides deliberated on challenges and benefits encountered by mobile service providers since the passing and effecting of the new electronic transaction levies,” reports from Dodoma say.

But, higher learning institution students believe that the new electronic transaction levies would greatly affect them as their demand remains higher compared to Sh570 billion allocated for the academic year 2022/23.

The Higher Education Student Loans Board (Heslb) has allocated a Sh8,500 daily allowance for meals and accommodation, which translates to Sh510,000 for a 60-day-academic period for continuing students.

They, therefore, believe that imposed bank levies would adversely affect life affordability, bearing in mind that the cost of living has also almost tripled through transport charges, food, internet and property taxes as well as rental fees.

A second year student at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, Ms Hellen Kabombe, said the reduction of education subvention from Sh524,000 in 2020/21 academic year to Sh510,000 would adversely worsen the situation.

“With the new charges, we are forced to withdraw all the deposited money to reduce a deduction amount that would be withdrawn multiple times,” she said.

“This is again even more of a risk. But, I have decided to take the risk rather than waiting to be hit by the withdrawing charges... I can’t imagine how we are going to survive in the campus if the new charges are not scrapped on time,” she said.

Ms Rachel Jackson, a student from the University of Dodoma, said the authorities should consider making adjustments by increasing allocations to balance the situation. ‘Allowances disbursed for meal and accommodation allowance should now be increased from Sh8, 500 to at least Sh10, 000 per day in order to enable us to withstand the newly imposed bank charges,’’ she supposed. “Venues around here are scattered and sometimes you need to take transport so as to catch up with lectures. I now walk instead of using buses to cope with the current situation,” she noted.

“Going to the classes for extra studies at night demands me to wait for the company of colleagues as it is dangerous to walk through the bush in the dark,’’ she said.

But, a loan allocation officer from one of the universities, Mr Noel Ndyasi, told The Citizen that it was not that the allowance has been reduced, but the allocations for first year and continuing students have always been different.

He noted that first year students always receive Sh524, 875 because they get earlier than the rest for admission and registration as compared to the continuing students who receive Sh510 000.

Further, he said hefty charges depended upon the type of account students have opted for, noting for instance that students signed for the scholar accounts subject themselves to less charges.

He said the government should consider making adjustments by increasing allowances to accommodate students’ demands, noting that the seven-year increment has been overtaken by demands.

For her part, University of Dar es Salaam student Monica Mtui said, “I’m unaware of the scholar account that can provide relief to students.”