State owed MVR 1.9 billion in outstanding student loans

Higher Education Minister Dr. Ibrahim Hassan at a press conference on February 17, 2020. (File Photo/Sun/Ahmed Saeed)

The state is owed over MVR 1.9 billion in outstanding loans issued under various higher education schemes as of the end of 2021, according to a report published by the Auditor General’s Office.

According to the 2021 audit report of the Higher Education Ministry, sufficient efforts weren’t made to recover the outstanding loan payments. The Auditor General’s Office also expressed concern over lack of verification of the validity of the outstanding loan figures.

The report shows that the Higher Education Ministry’s financial statements place the overdue loan payments as of the end of 2021 at MVR 186,477,740.

However, auditors found that due to lack of internal controls to manage the records of the loans and lack of proper bookkeeping, auditors were unable to verify the authenticity of MVR 105.3 million listed as overdue loan amount.

According to the audit report, the state is due MVR 2.5 billion in student loans. MVR 1.9 billion is outstanding, while MVR 186.4 million is overdue.

The Auditor General’s Office found no effort was made in 2021 to recover the loan payments, and no cases were filed with the court for failure to make loan payments in accordance with the agreement as required under the Public Finance Act.

Additional irregulates found included keeping MVR 44.1 million in funds in accounts other than the public bank account.