Absconders ‘selfish’

Attorney General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Service key stakeholders awareness workshop at Suva Civic Centre. Picture: RAMA

Tertiary Education Loans Scheme (TELS) students who absconded overseas without clearing their loans have been labelled “very selfish and unpatriotic” by Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said Government lost money when students under the scheme travelled overseas and did not return.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the absconders were not defrauding the Government, they were doing dirty on Fijian taxpayers.

“When we had TELS, we had a few people actually who said ‘we’ll be back, we’re just going overseas’.

“They’ve never come back,” he said. “We’ve lost money that way.

“Because the taxpayers, through the governmental system or whether Government’s borrowed money, has actually paid for your education.

“If you do want to go, you can go, you just pay back the money, it’s only fair because you’ve got lots of other kids coming behind you.

“In the same way for those people who have just finished university and have kids and say ‘oh we want our debts all paid off’, what about your kids who are going to come behind you. “Are we going to keep on paying for them too?”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they had a “very generous system” where if students paid 50 per cent of their debt within a certain timeframe, 50 per cent of their debt was written off.

“That is extremely generous, you go to the United States of America, people are 60 years old and they’re still paying their university loans.”

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