OHE sets up account to recoup Tesas loans

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THE Office of Higher Education (OHE) has set up a Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) account to recoup more than K6 million owed by tertiary education institutions students over a seven-year period.
The account will be managed by the Finance Department’s revenue division and has been given the vote code 106-01.
The OHE is chasing 7,038 tertiary students who borrowed a total of K6.6 million between 2000 and 2007 under the now suspended Tertiary Education Study Assistance Scheme (Tesas) to meet the cost of their education but did not repay the money after graduation.
The loans varied from K100 to K2,250.
OHE student support and scholarship branch acting assistant director Joseph Morimai said yesterday that the Finance Department would assist in the recovery process.
Mr Morimai said that OHE would also design and maintain a debt recovery database to allow accurate accounting of individual students’ loans and repayments.
OHE director-general Dr William Tagis said recipients would be able to settle their accounts at Finance’s district offices instead of coming to Port Moresby.
Dr Tagis said yesterday that when the Tesas loans were given out in 2000, the OHE did not, at that time, have infrastructure to collect and manage the funds that were to be repaid.
“We thought the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) would help us by establishing some kind of scheme like the graduate tax scheme but this did not eventuate so after giving out loans from 2000 to 2007, we suspended it to organise ourselves and try to recoup the loans.
“We are now ready to recoup the loans, therefore, we have put up public notices and, so far, we have received responses from students who are willing to pay,” he said.
Dr Tagis said currently the difficulty in knowing where all the beneficiaries were was due to the non-existence of proper databases, which the institutions as first ports of call, should be able to have in their alumni and bursar’s offices.
Only one female student – Grace Wii – out of the 7,038 beneficiaries has repaid her loan.
Ms Wii had taken out a loan of K561 to help pay for her tuition fees in 2000 when she enrolled at the University of Papua New Guinea. 
Ms Wii said that in the second semester of 2001, when she was a second year student studying for a diploma in accounting, she dropped out of school to accept a job offer from Oil Search Ltd.
She said that in 2004, she got in touch with an OHE officer, Ted Alau, who had helped her to make the repayment which she did in a cheque form.
Ms Wii is now the learning management systems administrator with Oil Search Ltd and is currently studying for her diploma in Human Resource Management at the Divine Word University.