Minister of State Joe Harmon today made it clear that the Government of Guyana had made no decision to put a system in place that would see persons being blocked from leaving the country over their failure to repay their student loans to the Government.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan set off a firestorm of criticism last week after he indicated that there was a move to begin blocking persons leaving the country over their failure to honour the contract to repay their student loans.
At a post cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, State Minister Joe Harmon explained that while the issue did come up at cabinet as part of several other recommendations, there was no decision taken.
“There was no decision made at cabinet that anybody would be prevented from leaving the country at this point in time”, Harmon assured.
He said the government does not intend to use any “sledgehammer” approach, but rather a soft approach to encourage people to honour their agreement so that others could benefit from the loan facility since it is part of a revolving fund.
“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 benefit”, he said.
The Government intends to have persons come up with payment plans in their efforts to repay the student loans. Many of those that the government is going after are persons who would have graduated more than a decade ago and made no effort to repay any part of the loan.
A recent audit found several doctors, politicians and lawyers among those who owe millions of dollars to the loan agency.