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Bahamas: $100m Student Loan Debt Forces Hiring Of Collection Agency

The Education Loan Authority’s (ELA) delinquency recovery rate needs to increase seven-fold, a Cabinet Minister admitted yesterday, with Bahamian taxpayers “on the hook for $100m”.

Jeffrey Lloyd, minister of education, told Tribune Business that the Authority’s Board was about to hire a private collection agency “with the teeth” to pursue deadbeat borrowers after its staff found themselves “overwhelmed” by the sheer magnitude of the task.

With legal action was the ultimate recourse, Mr Lloyd said the delinquency recovery rate needed to increase from the present $60,000-80,000 per month to $400,000-$500,000, or from $1m per year to $6-$7m, if the Authority is to “put a serious dent” in what it is owed.

Warning that his and the Authority’s “patience has simply run out”, the minister slammed the “stubborn and recalcitrant” defaulters who refused to enter even settlement discussions, adding that they faced having their credit standing “permanently tarnished” when The Bahamas’ first-ever Credit Bureau goes live within the next view years.

And Mr Lloyd said Tribune Business had “hit the nail on the head” when this newspaper asked whether too many Bahamians viewed a government loan as a gift, grant or free credit with no obligation to repay “a dime” to the Bahamian taxpayer.

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