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General News of Tuesday, 30 January 2007


Press Statement Issued By The NUGS

Press Statement Issued By The Nugs Secretariat, UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST ON TUESDAY JANUARY 30, 2007

Following the publication of a story captioned “Students tango over Loan” in the Thursday January 25, 2007 edition of the Accra Daily Mail Newspaper and the ensuing hype by some media houses in the country, we of the NUGS Secretariat in the University of Cape Coast wishes to register with much displeasure the manner some Newspapers and Radio Stations give prominence and attention to some self-acclaimed opinion leaders who tend to misinform the general public in order to bring chaos and satisfy their parochial agenda.

The Secretariat views the content of the said release and the intent and motive of the group calling itself the Mass Resistance Committee of Legon as very unfortunate. It further sees it as a deliberate and a calculated attempt to cast a slur on the competence, integrity and reputation of the NUGS President, Mr. William Yamoah, and an affront to the hard won image of the largest student movement in Ghana. Such tomfoolery must be condemned by all well meaning Ghanaians.

In the said press release, the spokesperson of the Committee, Mr. Atik Mohammed, sought to create the notion that “It is a basic rule in policy analysis that problems of a policy are better fashioned out and rectified gradually only if the policy is set to roll out.” This assertion is neither here nor there. In developing a policy, the document goes through some stages and this involves interested parties engaged in seeking to shape the policy. Foucault (1986) recognizes the sort of political nature that exists within the ‘policy process’ and the obstructions which needs to be unblocked to allow free access. The process of every policy development is not laid to rest until it becomes matured enough to produce something good before its implementation. Although policies may sometimes be provisional and fallible, the SLTF which has come to replace the SSNIT Loan Scheme, right at the word go is characterized by certain unfriendly and cold provisions with regards to the interest rate of the loan.

We do not want to believe that this policy is taking a ‘top down’ approach in its implementation and therefore must exhaust the pertinent concerns raised by some stakeholders including students who are the main beneficiaries of this new loan scheme.

The vehement decision by the Central Committee of NUGS (second highest decision making body of NUGS) after it was briefed by representatives from the SLTF Secretariat at her meeting in Sunyani on December 20, 2006 to halt the process of the SLTF, and as contained in the press statement issued by the President of NUGS last two (2) weeks, does not only signal the ruinous nature of the new loan but further reveals the needed attention that Government and the SLTF must give to this new Loan Scheme.

The narrow-mindedness of the claim by the Mass Resistance Committee of Legon that; “If this is his main worry, then his argument is a non-starter because the present inflation rate is fairly minimal and stable” is rather disappointing. It is prudent for stakeholders to consider the economic behavior with respect to inflation of the country over a long period so as to make good arguments than considering the short term performance. The country’s economy over the last fifteen (15) years can be said without wobble as unpredictable. Inflation over the years has varied between 11 – 50%. It will therefore be suicidal for the SLTF to hand over the Heartbeat of students at the kindness of our capricious economy. The example of what is happening in South Africa (as always quoted by members of the SLTF Secretariat) and other countries like Kenya where their Students’ Loan is relatively flexible is there to compare.

It is shockingly outlandish to note from the said release by the Mass Resistance Committee of Legon trying to build the inkling that since most of the NUGS Executives are not likely beneficiaries of the scheme, they should cease to make inputs into the Students Loan Trust Fund. This notion by the group is outrageous and fairly below par and does not in any way deserve such publicity as given by some press houses.

The substantive issue still remains that Government and the SLTF Board should reconsider the provisions with regards to the interest rate of the Students Loan Trust Fund.

We however recommend that; i. Government and the SLTF Board should set a ceiling on the interest rate to deliver students from the manacles of our erratic economy. In this wise, when inflation hits above the ceiling rate, government will come in to absorb the excess on the ceiling rate. ii. Government should consider awarding bursaries to students as experienced in most countries to increase poorer students’ access to funds which would also combat privileged education in Ghana. iii. The burden of repayment which is characterized by a + 4% on the existing GOG 182 day T/bill rate compounding semi-annually during the repayment period must be waved off and rather an aggressive public education, the enactment and enforcement of a legal instrument binding all loanees and employers to ensure repayment among other factors would help the SLTF to recover her loan as practiced by the Higher Education Loans Board in Kenya.

In calling on Government and the SLTF Board to reassess the terms of this new loan scheme, we wish to call also on all past beneficiaries of the SSNIT Loan Scheme to make up for their debts because most Guarantors are going through anguish after committing to their well being.

The Struggle Continues, Victory is Certain.

HAROLD BOATENG Local NUGS President University of Cape Coast

024 – 4 955 898

Issued in Cape Coast Tuesday January 30, 2007.