There will be no travel restrictions on graduates and students of the University of Guyana (UG) who have defaulted on their loans since such an action would be in violation of the Constitution, President David Granger said on Thursday.
Immense public outcry erupted after Finance Minister Winston Jordan indicated that steps were being taken to prevent UG students with outstanding debts from leaving the country.
Prompted to comment on the situation, President Granger emphasised that he would never stand in agreement with a move that went against the law.
“I do not believe that the Minister of Finance’s remarks are supported by the law and I am obliged to take the side of the law. If it is not lawful, it cannot be enforced,” he said during an interview on the “The Public Interest”.
Granger said he understood why the Minister would make such statements, given the significant number of recalcitrant borrowers, but he explained that other measures would have to be pursued to encourage UG students to repay the State’s money.
“I can understand his frustration because we need the money because it’s meant to be a revolving fund. But there needs to be other measures and we must move away from banning and use other more persuasive and less coercive measures,” he stated.
State Minister Joseph Harmon also weighed in on the issue, noting that while Cabinet did discuss the option, no definitive decision was taken.
“There is no decision that has been made at Cabinet that anybody will be prevented from leaving the country at this point in time,” Harmon told media operatives at a post-Cabinet press briefing.
He explained that while Government wants students to repay their loans, it would not use a “sledgehammer approach” to achieve this.
“It’s not like we are going to lock up people and all those kinds of things, but it is about encouraging you to honour your obligations and to recognise that if you do not repay, you are preventing young people coming into the system from benefiting from those things from which you benefited,” Harmon stated.
These clarifications on the “travel ban” controversy were being made some six days after reports began circulating on the issue.