BNBL working for a possible Education Visa Loan Service

Meanwhile, those trying to go to Australia but could not avail loan from the two private banks are looking for other alternatives

The Bhutan National Bank Limited (BNBL) has refuted words doing the round that the bank’s proposal put up to the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), for the education loan scheme that was earlier provided by Bhutan’s two private banks was rejected.

However, an official from the bank said that BNBL is working on to start providing similar schemes as was done by the two private banks.

Meanwhile, several Bhutanese, planning to move to Australia, who have been affected by the suspension of the education loans are turning to other sources for finance and there are others who are waiting for BNBL to begin the education visa loan scheme.

When asked if BNBL had proposed to the RMA about such a scheme, an official from BNBL said it is not true. However, he mentioned that the Bank is working towards offering a similar scheme. “We don’t know whether Royal Monetary Authority will allow the bank to provide a similar scheme,” he said, adding that BNBL is working to offer a similar scheme in the near future. “But as of now it is not confirmed,” he said.

He further mentioned that BNBL provides education loan, but not like the one that was earlier provided by Bhutan’s two private Banks.

Torn between suspensions of the visa loans are many Bhutanese who are looking for alternatives. “I have now begun to approach private people who say they are not money lenders. However, the interest rates they charge is very high. Though I may be able to pay the interests once I reach Australia, they also need a guarantor, and I do not have one,” a graduate of 2021, who did not want to be named said.

He said that it would now be impossible to get a financial guarantee. Adding on to his woes is the fate that he has obtained an offer letter from a University in Australia for the December 2022, intake. “Even if BNBL begins a scheme, I think it will take time and I have given up my hope of going this December,” he said.

While the RMA board in December 29, 2016, approved “The Private Money Lending Rules and Regulations 2016,” which restricts private money lending to Nu 500,000 per person and has provisions on interests charged, another graduate of 2021, who says he has been “very unfortunate” says, private money lenders do not call themselves “money lenders.” “If I had been two days earlier in processing my papers, I would have got the loan from Punjab National Bank (PNB). I then went to a person to see if I could take some loans and the interests were high. He said he is not a money lender but just trying to help, apart from the requirement of a mortgage or guarantor,” the graduate said, adding that he also heard about BNBL’s proposal and is waiting for it.

He further added that those who are financially well with assets can avail loans in different forms. “It is always the underprivileged who are affected.”

Others have started to knock on the doors of friends and relatives who are already in Australia. Pema, from Mongar is delighted as her cousins have agreed to sponsor her studies as of now. “They are already settled in Australia and as I had no other alternatives, I had to request them. I know it will be a bit difficult for me to pay them at the onset. I will work hard and ensure that they are paid,” she said.

But everyone is not as fortunate as Pema. A graduate from Sherubtse, who is from Mongar said he is on the “brink of selling” his land. “I will not be able to get the price that land in Thimphu or Paro may get. But at-least I will have something and if not enough I can at least lend some from private lenders,” he said. Nonetheless, he said everyone is against selling the land as its value appreciates. “Further, it is special to my heart as it’s my family’s heritage. As of now, I am waiting for BNBL or any other bank to begin the visa education loan scheme,” he said.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu