Chennai: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) or the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should audit the manner in which the banks operate the interest subsidy scheme for their education loans, says K.Srinivasan, convenor of Education Loan Task Force (ELTF). “Based on the complaints received by ELTF, many students have not been getting interest subsidy from many banks. There are bank managers who even fob off the borrowers denying any such interest subsidy scheme,” Srinivasan, a former banker, told IANS. ELTF guides students on rules and regulations governing the education loans offered by nationalised banks. He said Canara Bank is the nodal agency for setting the bank’s claims under the interest subsidy scheme for a fee and it would claim the amount from the human resource development ministry. Srinivasan said under the interest subsidy scheme, the centre would reimburse the banks the interest due on the loan amount till the end of one year from the date of completion of the course, or six months from the date on which the student lands a job after his course — whichever is earlier. The centre would reimburse the interest to those students whose parental income is less than Rs.450,000 per annum, and on loans which are available only for professional and technical courses and not for arts/science, and students of diploma course, Srinivasan said.
Citing union budget documents, he said during 2011-12, Rs.697 crore was allotted for the loan’s interest subsidy. Between 2012-13 and 2013-14, Rs.800 crore and Rs.1,100 crore have been allocated. “I understand the Rs.1,100 crore allocation for this fiscal has already been exhausted,” he added. According to him, the total education loan portfolio for the banking sector as on March 31, 2013, is around Rs.53,000 crore in around 25 lakh accounts. Under the Indian Bank’s Association (IBA) guideline loan repayment could be done over a 10-15 year period. “But banks force the students to pay within three/five years. With the poor economic situation and the lack of employment opportunities, the students are not able to pay huge monthly dues. The banks then classify the accounts as non-performing and give a negative public image about this portfolio,” he said. Banks also shame the students by pasting their pictures on the branch notice boards when they default on dues. “We appreciate the interest subsidy scheme, but the way in which the interest subsidy is managed needs to be thoroughly audited by CAG or RBI,” said the ELTF convener.