Primary school pupils paying for government’s inefficiency.
If the Ministry of Education could get its act together and recover at least 10 percent every year from the close to 1 billion Pula outstanding in student loans, it would have enough money to defer the introduction of school fees in primary schools by at least 10 years – the Sunday Standard can reveal.
As of March 2006, the estimated outstanding loan from beneficiaries of the Grant Loan Scheme was P 745,086,802.50 and the figure is expected to grow as the minister recovers more data of Batswana who are not paying back their education loans.
A recovery of the arrears at the rate of 10 percent every year would raise P75 million, which is 50% more than the P50 million to be recovered annually through the introduction of school fees according to the ministry of finance budget estimates.
The Ministry of Education, however, still has to get its act together. Education Minister, Jacob Nkate, told Parliament this week that he has not submitted the “amount of such arrears to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for the amount to be incorporated in the financial statement because, according to Government procedure, as soon as a grandaunt is identified, the amount of loan is debited to his advance account, and is credited to the revenue account for those in the public service. In the case of grandaunts working in the parastatal and private sector, the amount of loan is recovered and credited to Government Revenue directly.”
Nkate further told parliament, “Regrettably, the appropriate accounting entries debiting individual officers’ advance accounts and crediting the revenue account have not been completed. This procedure is being stepped up.”
Nkate was answering questions from Tati East MP, Samson Guma, who had asked what the total amount outstanding is as at March 2006 on students’ loans and whether the minister had submitted the amount of such arrears to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for that amount to be incorporated in the financial statement.
Although Nkate said the amount comes up to P745, 086,802.50, he explained that “since we are dealing with backlog, this figure is tentative and will change as more information about beneficiaries is found.”