The Students Loans Board which on Wednesday declared its account dry, yesterday assured students of the higher learning institutions yet to be paid that the money was in the pipeline.
The Board’s Managing Director, George Nyatega told the students who returned to the Board offices yesterday, under close watch of the police, to press their case that Treasury was processing the money to enable them to be paid.
The students were from Mwalimu Nyerere Memorial Academy, College of Business Education (CBE) and St. John's University - Dar es Salaam Branch.
Meanwhile Finance Minister Dr William Mgimwa said exhaustion of funds in the HESLB account does not mean the government is bankrupt, stressing that funds for the students were incorporated in the next budget.
Speaking to The Guardian in an exclusive interview yesterday, Dr Mgimwa stated that all the information concerning university students will be given when tabling the budget for 2012/13 financial year in Parliament next month.
“We have set aside funds for the university students in the coming budget. The money will be deposited in HESLB account immediately after approval of the budget”, he said.
The Minister however said that issues of loans for students in higher learning institutions are under the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. He said even the HESLB account operates under the education ministry.
Meanwhile, President of Tanzania Higher Learning Institutions Organization (Tahliso) Paul Makonda blamed police officers from Kinondoni district for using tear gas to disperse the students who were demanding for their rights.
Makonda claimed that issue of students loans are now critical, suggesting for the government to hand over the task to other organs including banks since they have enough knowledge on lending matters.
“Some student have no relatives in Dar es Salaam, they are leading a miserable life…some girls are risking their lives by engaging in sex for money,” he said.
Makonda called on the government to arrange for a national dialogue where Tanzanians would debate on whether students’ loans should be channeled to HESLB or banks.
On Wednesday Nyatega told students from higher learning institutions that funds set aside for them have been exhausted.
Nyatega who said: “Our bank account which we use for paying student loans is currently reading ‘zero’....nothing in the account.” He was speaking to a section of higher learning students who thronged his office yesterday, pressing him to pay their food, accommodation and research allowances.
According to Nyatega, his office had already prepared all payments for the students in various universities, but did not prepare a cheque because there was nothing in the bank.
So far the board has paid students from University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Ardhi University (ARU) and Institute of Finance Management (IFM).