Economy

38,314 more default on Helb as Covid-19 hurts economy

helb

Students queuing at HELB offices in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Helb data tabled in Parliament on Wednesday shows loan accounts in default increased to 116,642 from the 78,328 recorded in December last year.

An additional 38,314 former university students have defaulted on their Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) financing in the 10 months to October when the Covid-19 pandemic triggered layoffs, business closure and freeze in hiring.

Helb data tabled in Parliament on Wednesday shows loan accounts in default increased to 116,642 from the 78,328 recorded in December last year.

This highlights the struggle faced by beneficiaries who were making repayments on the strength of their payslips and cash flow from their businesses for those in self-employment.

As a result, more than Sh11.3 billion is in default out of the 45.5 billion students loans, giving Helb a non performing ratio of 24.8 per cent—which is higher than the banking average of 13.6 per cent.

“The total mature outstanding debt is Sh45.5 billion held by 323,666 loanees out of which 207,024 are currently repaying their loans worth Sh34.2 billion,” said Helb chief executive Charles Ringera.

Kenya in April imposed Covid-19 lockdown measures including a daily night curfew to combat spread of the coronavirus.

The restrictions led to Kenya’s first economic contraction in 12 years and shed 1.72 million jobs, which hurt the flow of money in an economy plagued by a hiring freeze.

Early this year, the agency said it was pursuing some 78,328 defaulters holding Sh7.7 billion as at December 31 last year.