With tens of thousands of Guyanese yet to repay the University of Guyana (UG) Student Loan Agency, the Ministry of Finance has collaborated with one of Guyana’s leading internet service provider – Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GTT)- to make the process much easier.
Since it began the program in 1994, the Ministry of Finance through the Student Loan Agency has so far seen an issuance of some 28,936 loans of which they say 20,301 are delinquent.
According to Finance Minister Winston Jordan, this amount has cost government almost $10B dollars over a 23-year period.
The Minister noted that during the Jubilee Independence Anniversary celebrations, several options were put in place to have loan defaulters repay their debts. He said it was regrettable that many did not take advantage of the offer. This has resulted in the Government being left with a huge number of outstanding student loans, he explained.
He stated, “I don’t think there has been a significant dent to what I gave at the last time….There was some exuberance at the offer but it didn’t get the kind of response that we were hoping for where a significant dent would have been made. We did get some money in but it’s not significant to what is owing.”
Among the cries of past and continuing students, is, that apart from the lack of financial resources to honour their obligations, there are very few payment options available.
On Monday, Minister, Winston Jordan dubbed the initiative an important milestone for the agency which will now accept its repayment through the GTT app, Mobile Money Guyana (MMG).
“I am pleased to announce that the Student Loan Agency has partnered with GTT’s Mobile Money Guyana, MMG, to offer past and continuing students a new option to repay their loans. This new option is fast and secure. All it requires is a GTT handset and an MMG account. I expect many persons will make use of this service,” he said.
The service has no financial bearing on government, but users will be charged a $100 service fee, as is charged for every other service offered by mobile money.
GTT’s Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nedd said his company has been moving to raise the bar in almost every facet of the technological environment even as it seeks to elevate the quality of life of what he said are several generations of Guyanese.
“I wanna say that when I check the GSMA’s websites, there are half a billion or more Mobile Money accounts throughout the world in 2016 and Mobile Money does about 30,000 transactions per minute or more than 43M transactions per day so in Guyana we’re only scratching the surface but we’re getting there. This is big.”
The MMG agreement was described as a very simple process by Nedd. He explained that, “All current and past students have to do to repay their tuition loans is to enter their UG registration number, the amount they would like to pay and press send. The new option adds to the facility already being used by thousands to pay various utility bills.”
The GTT CEO described the new plan as just one of the many ways the company is using technology to improve the lives of Guyanese.
The mobile money app offers a payment platform that seeks to provide a convenient way of conducting business without the use of physical cash.
It is known as a convenient tool for paying utility bills, cable bills along with hire purchase payments, among other things.
For persons desirous of using this payment plan, a GTT handset is required with the MMG app installed.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister says he is currently working with Western Union to facilitate payments for those former students residing overseas and this will be launched soon.
The criteria for issuing loans and potential guarantors, is also being restructured, so as to facilitate easier payments, he outlined.