MASERU — Time is running out for thousands of people who have not repaid their loans to the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
The NMDS says it is in the last stage of hiring a debt collector who is going to recover millions of maloti owed by former students who were sponsored by the government.
NMDS director Letholetseng Ntsike last year announced that the debt collector was to start work on April 1.
This week Moeketsi Rankhone, the NMDS information officer, said the process of hiring the debt collector is “slightly behind” schedule but at the final stage.
He said the debt collector will start work as soon as the procurement process has been finalised.
“The name of the debt collector is yet to be announced. But the procurement procedures are at a final stage.”
The debt collector will start work anytime soon, he said.
The secretariat decided to engage a debt collector after failing to trace thousands of tertiary education loan defaulters.
Ntsike said NMDS is owed more than M1 billion in unpaid education loans and the number of people who have not paid their debts runs into thousands since 1978 when the loan scheme was established.
Last year the NMDS started compiling lists of people whose files had been fraudulently destroyed so that they could avoid paying the loans.
The secrtariat sent letters to employers in Lesotho asking them to submit names of all their workers who could have benefited from government scholarships.
The loan defaulters were given up to last month to approach the NMDS to forge an agreement of how they can pay back the money in installments.
Ntsike said the debtors would be given an opportunity to negotiate terms of repayment before the debt collector starts work.
“But once the debt collectors start work, there won’t be any negotiations. Repayments would now be made under their (debt collector/s) terms,” she warned.
This might see some people paying much more than what they owe because of interests, Ntsike said at a press conference last year.