Financially-strapped SRLF to get boost from CDB
Minister of Education Ronald Jones Friday confirmed that the state-run Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) was cash-strapped and was unable to assist Barbadians seeking financial support to pursue studies.
Barbados TODAY reported Thursday that the Fund had rejected all applications that came up for consideration on Monday and prospective students were being advised by automatic email.
One student had told Barbados TODAY that the programme was broke.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon at his Constitution Road, St Michael office, Jones said the SRLF was not broke, but admitted that it was not in a position at this stage to approve any new loans.
However, he revealed that the coffers would be replenished in about three weeks time with a $15 million cash injection from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and he gave the assurance that once the money was available, the Fund would reconsider the applicantions that had been turned down.
“We will revisit within the next three or four weeks . . . but we didn’t want to keep persons hanging on so that is why we communicated to them. But within the next three or so weeks, we will do some revisiting of those persons who have received communication,” Jones said.
“Cabinet has been asked to look at some broader policies for the strengthening of the Student Revolving Loan Fund. As you know the fund provides the cheapest or the lowest interest rate . . . it will be kept quite low because it is for Barbadian students . . . . The bottom line is that there has been some stress on the fund. This is a $100 million institution.”
The minister said the SRLF was owed $30 million in outstanding loan repayments, while the number of applicants climb 500 per cent over the past three years,
While appealing to delinquent borrowers here and abroad to pay up, Jones warned that the ministry would name and shame those who refused to settle outstanding debts.
The Minister of Education Jones also disclosed that Government might have to review the two-year moratorium on the loans, which had added a financial burden on the fund due to the substantial number of bad loans. He said the Fund had also waived the penalties attached to defaulting loans and tried to renegotiate repayment arrangements.
“Sometimes the penalties can outstrip the interest; so we would put that aside in order to give you a room, a lead way to meet your commitments . . . but they got some people who just don’t like paying back when they borrow . . . . So we will be pleased if some person wherever they are -here or over in a way – hearing my voice now . . . find some kinds of money to pay off their loans,” Jones stressed.
He said while the fund was not being handed over to other institutions to manage, he was encouraging people seeking educational loans to apply to credit unions in the meantime.