The Government says it has netted $150 million in additional payments since it launched an initiative four years ago to encourage overseas student loan debtors to start repaying their loans.
It took three years to collect the first $100 million and just six months to collect the next fifty million.
A toll-free number has been set up by Inland Revenue for borrowers living in the United Kingdom and Australia. Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says there is an average of 224 incoming calls per day – a 40 per cent increase.
“People are realising that under the new regime, just because they have left New Zealand, they haven’t left the debt behind,” Mr Joyce says.
Earlier this year, it was made possible for Inland Revenue to be able to request an arrest warrant for borrowers about to leave New Zealand who knowingly defaulted on their overseas-based repayment obligation.
The measure attracted criticism from some groups, including New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) which felt that the “gimmicky ‘criminalise and arrest at the border’ proposal”did not take into account alternative suggestions from many submissions.
However, Revenue Minister Todd McClay says detention at the border remains a last resort, and he is encouraged that borrowers are responding to the measures put in place to make the loans easier to pay back.
Even so, the Government says there is still a total of $686 million in overdue debt owed by overseas-based debtors.
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