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MVR 187 million to be recovered from student loans: Audit

Malika Shahid
23 January 2023, MVT 15:28
[Files] Student loan announcement ceremony: The Audit Office has pointed out several loopholes in the student loan schemes
Malika Shahid
23 January 2023, MVT 15:28

The Audit Office has said there were several loopholes in the state's student loan schemes and that MVR 187 million has not been received from the student loans run by the Higher Education Ministry.

According to the 2021 Financial Audit Report of the Ministry of Higher Education, no work has been carried out to recover the funds due by 2021 from the higher education loans issued by the government.

According to the state's Public Finance Regulation, if the deadline for payment of the money owed to the state expires, an additional seven days must be given. If the money is not received within that period, a written notice must be given with an additional seven-day period for repayment. If the payment is still not made after these stages, the case must be taken to court. If the money is not paid even after being taken to court, the matter should be submitted to the Ministry of Finance.

The Audit Office stated that MVR 105 million worth of loans managed by the Higher Education Department are outstanding. The audit report also said that the validity of the amounts not received cannot be ensured due to the removal of the internal mechanisms used by the ministry to maintain the records of the loans.

The next outstanding student loans were about MVR 78 million through BML and MVR 2.9 million through the Bank of Ceylon. Of the student loans, about MVR 78 million disbursed through the Bank of Maldives (BML) and MVR 2.9 million through the Bank of Ceylon are unrecovered.

According to the audit report, MVR 44 million of the money required for various loan schemes run by the Higher Education Ministry is in accounts other than public bank accounts. Of this, MVR 34 million is in four accounts that have suspended provision of loans. The audit office recommended that this money be deposited in the public bank account.

Free Degree register is not valid

The Audit Office said the records of students who have received free undergraduate degrees have not been properly maintained and that the details of payment records for these students have not been maintained. Therefore, the amounts already paid to individuals and the amounts remaining cannot be confirmed so far, the Audit Office said.

In addition, due to a lack of relevant information, the audit stated that it failed to examine students who had stopped receiving funding under the "government-expended undergraduate education policy" and whether or not actions needed to be taken against such students to recover said funding.

According to the Audit Office, the government has so far allocated MVR 141 million to students pursuing under the free degree program.