N.S. writes off $6.9 million in bad debt for fiscal year ending March 31, 2009

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Student loan defaults make up more than a third of $6.1 million in debts that Nova Scotia is writing off this year.
The Finance Department released information Wednesday that shows the government believes it won't collect $2.4 million in loans.
It's a small portion of the loans that are outstanding. Education Department spokesman Dan Harrison said there's $107 million in loans that people are repaying.
He said the $2.4 million is about the same amount in default as the last couple of years.
Harrison said there are 347 individual loans dating back to 2000 that are being written off, including some for a person's death or disability. The highest individual amount is $22,216, he said.
The other major writeoff is in the Agriculture Department, with $1.9 million, almost entirely in five loans under the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board. The largest amount was about $1.2 million to a farmer who went bankrupt almost a decade ago, department spokeswoman Celeste Sulliman said in an email.
There's another $900,000 in uncollectable fines under the Justice Department.
In all, 11 departments wrote off debts. Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal wrote off $262,558 in insurance settlements.
A Finance Department news release said all the debts were unpaid or considered uncollectable as of March 31, 2009.
There's no impact on the current fiscal year's books. The amounts are recorded in the March 31, 2009, financial statements, the release said.
In the last fiscal year, the province wrote off $10.2 million.
The Finance Department says debts can be written off due to bankruptcies, the debtor's death, or property foreclosures. For small amounts, the cost collecting it might be more than the actual debt.
Although the amounts are written off for accounting purposes, the department said the province will still try to collect some of the debts.

Organizations: Finance Department, Education Department, Agriculture Department Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board Justice Department

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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