DP Ruto promises to convert HELB into grant, not loan

Deputy President William Ruto has promised to convert Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) into a grant if elected president.

This, according to the DP, will help thousands of varsity students struggling with the payment of the loan amidst the high rate of unemployment in Kenya.

“We want to revise HELB and the funds that are given. We want to first remove the interest and because that money is very little it should be increased so that comrades can have enough to pay for their needs,” said DP Ruto.

HELB loan is among credit facilities in the country has seen millions of Kenyans listed in Kenya’s Credit reference Bureaus (CRBs).

The DP said that as much as the HELB was beneficial, is still very little to cater for students’ education needs, much of which lands into their pockets late.

“I know the money comes very late and people are struggling at that time. We will hasten the process and make sure no one is listed in CRB because of HELB. In the future we will make the fund to be a grant, especially to the needy children,” he added.

Data by Metropol CRB shows that the number of loans accounts in arrears for more than 90 days had jumped to 14,035,718 by January last year, up from 9,673,258 in August 2020.

DP’s remarks come against a report that at least 109, 000 beneficiaries defaulted on their HELB loans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, HELB announced a crackdown on loan defaulters in conjunction with the authorities as it had been estimated that they owed the board Ksh.50 billion.

In a new measure to woo borrowers to start repaying loans, the financier this year rolled out a campaign dubbed kamilishamalipoyahelb, which intends to provide HELB beneficiaries a 100 percent penalty waiver.

HELB stated that the decision to start the campaign was prompted by the post-COVID-19 effects which took a toll on the economy.

The DP, who spoke during his campaign trail at Kitui Kwa Vonza, said his government will tackle unemployment among youth by injecting Ksh.100 billion for housing, Agro-Processing, and Manufacturing

He also revealed that his government would issue Ksh.50 billion to Small Micro Finance businesses that are mostly owned by the youth and were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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