A-G: Proposals made by political parties ‘nonsense’

Attorney-General and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament. Picture: RAMA

Attorney-General and Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament. Picture: RAMA

FIFTY per cent of Fiji’s population is below the age of 27 and all of them need to be educated, says Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum.While responding to queries raised during the Fiji Bus Operators Association (FBOA) annual convention on Saturday, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum described proposals made by political parties to remove Government’s Tertiary Education Loans Scheme (TELS) and extend free education to tertiary institutions as “nonsense”.

Bus operators had raised a question on the type of mechanisms that could be implemented as a means of retaining qualified tradesmen in Fiji, especially those they had sponsored.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government had been working to ensure that tertiary sponsored students worked for a few years in Fiji.

“It’s based on the cost — the amount of money we spent on you. So for example if we give you toppers scholarship, in order to pay us back you have to work in Fiji for at least eight to nine
years,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“If you want to leave Fiji before that term, you have to pay us the money that you owe. The same with tertiary education loan, you can migrate but as long as you pay us back.”

Unfortunately, some people who were under TELS have gone, gone with the wind and left their debt behind. But we need to be able to fit into the system because 50 per cent of the population are below the age of 27. All these young children need to be educated and all these political parties who talk about making it all free — it’s nonsense,” he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Government spent around $800 million on tertiary loans and scholarships as it was a good investment.

Meanwhile, SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka had earlier said that if SODELPA formed government after the polls, it would convert existing loans to scholarships and offer scholarships to all tertiary students who wished to study.

Fiji Labour Party had stated that it would review the Tertiary Education Loans Scheme (TELS) and cut loan repayment by 50 per cent for students who successfully completed their courses.
National Federation Party (NFP) leader Biman Prasad yesterday said the A-G must specifically point out which political party was promising free tertiary education because the NFP had never made such a promise.