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Auditors lash out at student loans body

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08:44 CET+01:00
State auditors have launched a stinging critique of student loans body CSN and the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) for their failure to chase up debts owed by people living abroad.

In a report due to be presented to the government on Tuesday, the Swedish National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen) argues that the two agencies are costing the state billions of kronor in lost revenue.

Nine out of ten of the Social Insurance Agency's creditors living abroad failed to meet their repayment requirement last year, Dagens Nyheter reports.

In the case of CSN, one out of every four clients living outside of Sweden missed payments in 2008.

In the coming year, grants and loans amounting 1.3 billion kronor ($167 million) will be written off by CSN as bad debts.

The Social Insurance Agency is set to write off 13 million kronor worth of debts in 2009, rising to 46 million kronor over the next five years.

"The Social Insurance Agency sends a collection letter. If there is no reply, then that's the end of the matter. It's fair to say that there's very little risk involved in receiving payouts that are too high if you live abroad," auditor Karin Lindell, the author of the report, told Dagens Nyheter.

She is also deeply critical of the agency's inability to provide a list of people who have been overpaid.

"If you send money abroad you have to know where it's being sent, otherwise it seems like you're just sending it out willy nilly," said Lindell.

CSN has submitted proposals over the last few days for improving its routines, a move welcomed by Lindell, although she is keenly aware that the body waited until it had "a knife to its throat".

"Among other things, they want to be able to demand the full loan sum from people who are not making their repayments," she said.

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