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Unemployed HELB loanees to be exempted from penalties

19 August 2015, 21:32 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – Students who have benefited from Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) study loan will have a reason to smile if President Uhuru Kenyatta assents to a law unanimously passed by MPs exempting unemployed loanees from penalties.

The passed amendment to the HELB Act sponsored by Irungu Kangata (Kiharu) demands that beneficiaries be given a year after their graduation to secure jobs before interest and other levies are imposed on loan.

Kangata, while appreciating National Assembly colleagues for supporting the amendment, said the government has been unfair in imposing levies on HELB loan beneficiaries the moment they complete their university or college studies regardless of whether they are employed or not.

“The passage of this amendment is a reprieve to many young people who benefited from the HELB loan for their university studies but have not secured an employment,” said Kangata.

Read Also: World Bank gives 37mln USD credit to help Kenya's financial sector

The amendment to the Act requires unemployed loanees to notify the Board in writing in advance to be exempted from levy penalties.

Kenyatta’s assent to the Bill will also be a big win for students in both public and private universities since student leaders from the institutions will elect one representative on a rotational basis for representation in the HELB board.

Since the Constitution provides for equal stakeholder participation in management of public affairs, Kangata argued that the current board sidelines students and that their inclusion will ensure that leaners’ issues are properly addressed to avert witnessed strikes against HELB delayed release of funds.  

The Bill further proposes that students below 18 years seeking to apply for HELB funds be allowed to access it through their parents or guardians thereafter the loan be transferred to the student’s name upon attaining legal age.

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