Interest free loan programs for tertiary students

The Marape-Steven Government is looking into the possibility of interest free loan programs for tertiary students.

When responding to a ‘question without notice’ from North-Fly MP, James Donald, in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 8), Prime Minister James Marape said they aim to implement the initiative starting next year.

“That is something that we are preparing and our Minister for Higher Education is in advanced stage in tailoring the exact principles and policies towards how we will ensure this comes to fruition or materialises,” responded Marape.

“Mr Deputy Speaker (Jeffrey Komal), you will agree with me, the cost of education, consistent with the rise of inflation, continues to go up every year. The burden is so huge on our citizens, parents and families who got one or two kids in colleges and universities.

“So our Government deliberately is making our interest known that we will make intervention at that level.

“But Mr Deputy Speaker, the catch also is this; whilst we embark on loan program for students to secure to assist in their school fee, we will have some qualifiers. And I’m proposing a few qualifiers. One of them is every student who will be embarking on this program, start now to register yourself against national identification (NID) so that you can have a valid NID that confirms that you’re ‘citizen x’ or ‘citizen y’ or this citizen emanated from this part of the country.

“So NID program will be a benchmark in which our citizens who want to participate in government beneficiary schemes will be correctly identified.”

Marape said his Government will work with NID and the Department of National Planning to ensure that the Education Department becomes a big partner in capturing PNG’s population data and making sure that every citizen is registered.

“Second qualifier and very important one; we’re encouraging every parent and guardian to participate in an economic activity in some way in our country.

“And our Government will ensure we put in agricultural intervention programs, especially seedling dissemination with various commodity boards and fresh food development corporations.

“Every citizen in this country owns a piece of land. That land is not converted to economic use.

“So if you want your child to benefit from an interest free loan scheme, we will establish that every parent or citizen must be linked to a district somewhere, must be linked to a provincial office somewhere, where you are picking up cocoa seedlings, coffee seedlings, copra (coconut) seedlings, vegetable seedlings or have evidence of your intention or your involvement in an SME somewhere.

“We are talking about taking back PNG but we will never fully take back PNG if we don’t encourage citizens to participate in the economy in some way.”

Carmella Gware