NSFAF considers selling loan book

Student movements not shaken by threats

25 November 2021 | Local News

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

Over 130 000 Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) beneficiaries - some who refuse to pay back their loans -could be in for a big surprise after the fund confirmed that it is considering selling its loan book.

The move is part of concerted efforts to recover the N$4.2 billion it is owed by former beneficiaries, its acting CEO Kennedy Kandume said yesterday.

Kandume made the remarks in a telephonic interview following a stakeholder engagement where he gave an overview of the fund’s operations since it was established as an independent public entity in 2010.

The fund is owed N$2.1 billion by economically active beneficiaries while the remaining N$2.1 billion was issued to beneficiaries whose economic status NSFAF has not been able to establish.

“It’s a consideration we had made and we made proposals to financial institutions but because it [the loan book] was not clean, it was not appetising,” he said.

The fund had up until 2018 not converted its loan book into electronic format, leaving it in the dark about how much it was owed. The process to clean up its books has now, however, been completed, with Kandume adding that selling the loan book is an option the fund may still consider.

Billions owed

“We are cleaning it up and starting with that process again. It must be noted that it is a soft loan; it is charged at half the prime lending rate so that needs to be taken into consideration in terms of its attractiveness,” the CEO said.

“The N$4.2 billion, the status of them [the beneficiaries], we can only confirm that N$2.1 billion are economically active, leaving another N$2.1 billion,” Kandume said.

“If you are looking at the strict definition, N$4.2 billion,” he said on what the fund is owed.

Establishing value

The fund had been able to establish how much it was owed and by whom when it embarked on creating an electronic database, Kandume said.

“Towards the end of 2019 we established a project that we called the Data Integrity Project which aimed to convert all the physical files that we had into electronic format. Previously we were not able to say how much your loan book was because the information was scattered.”

The fund recently started an initiative to have its 130 000 defaulters repay matured loans.

“It is important that you, a former beneficiary and responsible Namibian, show your patriotism by paying back your loan for the benefit of future potential students. By failing to pay [it] back, you risk being blacklisted or having a court order against you, so arrange with the fund to pay back your loan today,” NSFAF said.

We won’t pay

The Students Union of Namibia (SUN) and Namibia National Students Organisation (NANSO) have, meanwhile, both reiterated earlier stances that students who owe the fund should not repay a cent.

SUN acting secretary-general Oscar Shikongo said no consideration would be given towards repaying NSFAF.

“No one is going to pay back that money. The loans should be turned into a grant,” he said, adding that if the fund follows through on its threats, they will take it to court.

NANSO acting spokesperson Ester Shakela said it was in support of the repayment of loans either.

“From the organisation as it pertains to the repayment of loans, for us, we do not encourage the repayment of loans.”