Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
FINANCE MINISTER Dr Peter Phillips has signalled that the criteria for persons to be guarantors for students accessing financing from the Student's Loan Bureau (SLB) will shortly be reviewed.
Speaking during a debate on a resolution for a Government guarantee of a loan of US$20 million from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Phillips said the guarantee system, as presently structured, is deficient in its capacity to be enforced.
"That is among the issues that will have to be examined," Phillips said in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
He added: "Rather than just having it as somebody that gives a good report, it will have to be something where there is a bankable obligation and guarantee given."
Applicants to the SLB must have a minimum of two guarantors who are obligated to repay the loan in the event that the borrower fails to do so.
The SLB requires that guarantors know the applicant and plan to maintain some measure of contact in the future.
In the meantime, lawmakers on Tuesday stressed the importance of the role of parents in financing the education of their children. Among them were North East Manchester Member of Parliament (MP) Audley Shaw, Central Kingston MP and Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, and North West St Ann MP Dr Dayton Campbell.
"It is necessary now for families to hear from this honourable House that it is important for them to save in order for them to attain their portion of tertiary education," Thwaites told his colleagues.
Campbell, who said he would not have made it thus far were it not for the existence of the SLB, also underscored the point saying there needs to be a change in the way State benefits are dispensed.
"Parents have to take a greater responsibility in the education of their children. I believe that this mentality that we have in the country where everyone believes that the Government ought to provide everything for them, we have to find a way to change it," Campbell said.
In the meantime, Thwaites argued that there needs to be an effective system of bonding.
Allocating scarce Funds
Thwaites also said there is a need to revisit whether boarding grants provided to students at the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology is the best way to allocate scare resources.
With the House approving the resolution for the Government guarantee of the loan, the SLB can now access the funds from the CDB, which is being made available at interest rates payable quarterly at an interest rate of 2.5 per cent per annum on the portion sourced from the bank's Special Fund Resources, and 3.91 per cent per annum on the portion sourced from the bank's Ordinary Capital Resources.
It is to be repaid in instalments commencing five years after the date of the loan agreement.