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Teachers, police officers sink in debts



MASERU – Teachers and police officers are sinking in a sea of debts, according to the Central Bank of Lesotho’s Financial Consumer Protection Unit.
The Central Bank revealed this during the launch of a campaign on indebtedness yesterday.

The bank said of all consumers who wrote to the unit seeking help, police officers and teachers were among the most highly in debt.
The Central Bank did not provide any statistics.

The acting governor of the Central Bank, Lehlomela Mohapi, said they launched the Financial Consumer Protection Unit after realising that a lot of people were suffering under the weight of debts.
The unit aims at resolving matters between money lenders and recipients of loans.

Mohapi said through their assessment they found out that more complaints were coming from indebted civil servants.
He said they also found that the security and education sectors were the most indebted sectors in the country.

This includes soldiers and intelligence agents.
Mohapi said they also discovered that Basotho were highly indebted, particularly the salaried people.

“This is a national crisis which needs to be worked on in collaboration (with other sectors),’’ he said.

He said salaried people will need to be educated on personal financial management.
Mohapi said the Central Bank will send out its team starting next week to provide education on financial management to civil servants.

He said they will also host workshops in the districts, especially in the security and education sectors.
The Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli said this is a major concern since police officers are mostly locked in debts.

He said this has affected the services they provide to the public.
He said even the strikes in their sector are triggered by indebtedness since the money the servants receive is no longer enough.

“This has also led to police getting involved in corruption in an effort to supplement their salaries,” Commissioner Molibeli said.

“Some even opt to resign so that they can settle their debts with their retirement packages,” he said.

Commissioner Molibeli said people who are salaried are so lucky as compared to people who are hustling.
However, he said people should manage their finances well.

He said this programme is going to assist them to solve the crisis.
The Principal Sectary of Basic Education, Theko Mohau, said they are more concerned about the indebtedness of teachers.
Mohau said it has become necessary to educate teachers on matters of personal finance.

“Some of the teachers are even struggling to meet transport costs as well as buy food for lunch,” Mohau said.

He said sometimes teachers even dodge classes to hide from the people they owe.

“The students are suffering because of the behaviour of such teachers,” he said.

Mohau said “people must consider loans for investing not for consumption”.

“Teachers must be trained on how to manage their pensions so that they can retire with better packages.”

The Director of National Security Strategy (NNS) at the National Security Service (NSS), Thapelo Mofammere, said NSS agents are also highly indebted.
Mofammere said they need the Central Bank’s intervention.

He said financial institutions should be directed not to offer loans to highly indebted civil servants.
He said the take-home limit of 30 percent for workers has to be reviewed to 60 percent since 30 percent cannot sustain a living.

He explained that a highly indebted person lacks peace and even the services that he or she provides would not be good.
The Deputy Commissioner of Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS), ’Marelebohile Ramaisa, said indebtedness causes a huge interruption at work as some of the workers end up not coming to work as they would be running away from creditors.

Ramaisa said education on financial management has to begin during the recruitment phase.

Refiloe Mpobole

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