NEWS

Expect TELS Allocations To Increase: Attorney-General

A number of students asked that their allowance under TELS be reviewed. This had already been reviewed in the last budget.
07 Mar 2019 10:45
Expect TELS Allocations To Increase: Attorney-General
Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum holds the second 2019-2020 national budget online consultation on March 6, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Students can expect allowances provided under the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme to increase.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed- Khaiyum held the second 2019- 2020 national budget online consultation yesterday, the first to be held with tertiary students.

A number of students asked that their allowance under TELS be reviewed. This had already been reviewed in the last budget.

The Acting Prime Minister in his response on the issue of allowance said: “The current NTS (National Toppers Scheme) allowance is $3400 per semester while under TELS students are eligible for a maximum allowance of $3635 per semester.

“TELS allowances were increased because it was relatively lower than the Toppers allowance.

But not all TELS students are eligible for the full maximum allowance of $3635.

I also want to say that students under NTS do not have to repay the allowances or the tuition fees to Government, but just have to serve their bond in Fiji. However, students under TELS will have to repay it.

“Nonetheless, we will review these allowances in the upcoming budget.”

A student had also asked that Government needed to do more to train more mental health counsellors and psychologists with “special focus on youths”.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum agreed, but also shared an anecdote from the previous budget consultations.

He said: “In terms of counsellors there is a general shortage of professional counsellors in schools and we are currently providing scholarships to address this concern.

However, I recall in our Budget Consultations with high school students a couple of years ago where students had raised a similar concern of the need for professional counsellors.

“When I asked them if any of them wanted to pursue a career as a professional counsellor. Not one single student put up their hand up.

So, you can see that we also need Fijians who are willing to become counsellors too and indeed see it as a career path.”

Minimum wage rate:
In regards to the national minimum wage rate, Government has already started a comprehensive review process not only in respect of the national minimum wage for the unskilled but also for the 10 sectors.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum while responding to questions on this said Government have asked international consultant working with Government to look at creating even more sectors.

“I hope you understand that the minimum wages for those in the different sectors are much higher than those on the national minimum wage.

This will give us a much better way forward rather than the politicisation of such an important economic matter.

Because I am sure you understand that not getting it right can cause enormous disruptions to our economy and negatively affect thousands of our citizens by causing amongst other things unemployment and high inflation.”

Edited by Susana Tuilau

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