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Education tax collection hits N300bn ― TETFund

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The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) on Tuesday revealed that the Education Tax collection by the Federal Inland Revenue Service has hit the N300 billion mark in the 2022 fiscal year.

Executive Secretary of the Fund, Arc. Sonny Echono who made this known in Abuja at a one-day meeting with the Heads of tertiary beneficiary institutions said there was a marked increase in the education tax collection from N189 billion in 2021 to N300 billion in the 2022 fiscal year for disbursement to beneficiaries institutions in 2023.

He explained that the Fund received N257 billion in 2020 for disbursement to beneficiary institutions and in 2021, it dropped to N189 billion leaving a shortfall of N68 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Echono, however, said that from September 2022, the figure jumped to N300 billion perhaps, because of the increase in education tax from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

”Yet, I am pleased to report that despite this challenge, in the last eight months, we have disbursed more funds to you than any year in the establishment of the fund.

”Our primary duty is actually a disbursement agency and we are expected to ensure that this is done judiciously for the purposes of funding projects in the various institutions,” he said.

Some of the Vice-Chancellors, Provosts and Rectors that attended the event appealed to TETFund to work with relevant Government agencies to address the challenges being faced by lecturers of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, noting the loss of eight months’ salaries by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) as a result of the prolonged strike was unhealthy for the system.

Some of them also asked TETFund management to find a way of resolving the Foreign Exchange challenge being faced by Nigerian scholars abroad, especially by engaging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the resolution of the forex crisis.

While speaking further on the need to summon the stakeholders’ interactive forum, the TETFund boss disclosed that the agenda of the meeting would focus on a number of concerns by the Fund in delivering its mandate as enshrined in the Act.

“We are also for the first time adopting the bottom-up approach to the budgeting process for the Year 2023 intervention cycle. As beneficiaries and institutions that execute the intervention lines, we will appreciate your input and suggestions for better delivery of the intervention budget.

“We shall at this meeting also receive feedback from you on the Fund’s project implementation in your institutions”.

“This no doubt underscores your support and commitment to the ongoing reforms to render our performance more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the nation’s tertiary education system.

“Another area of concern to the TETFund was the Research intervention lines. From available data, the nation is yet to benefit significantly from the desired impact of this intervention line. We shall therefore be considering new pathways to achieving greater impact on our various R&D interventions”, he said.

Other areas of deliberation to him, will be promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and employability of graduates of Nigerian tertiary institutions, feedback on the TETFund Skill G intervention project from inception till date and a brief presentation by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) on the procurement processes to facilitate speedy and seamless implementation of projects as chief accounting officers amongst others.

“Each topic will be anchored by identified players in those specific areas of discussion, which we believe will spur robust interaction and actionable ideas for greater results. As your intervention agency, we have remained consistent in our drive and strive for excellence employing practical ways and solutions towards repositioning and revitalizing our nation’s tertiary education system for the future generations to whom we owe this obligation”.

“We are improving global competitiveness and visibility through our Capacity Building Programmes at various levels and different areas of national interest We are forging partnerships both locally and internationally for better access to quality resources and services.

“These partnerships have yielded some level of benefits for our TETFund Scholarship for Academic Staff intervention (TSAS). We have signed MOU with some foreign institutions that offer free tuition and other incentives to our scholars who qualify for such benefits. We are making efforts to expand these partnerships and MOUs to other critical areas such as research and innovation, Agriculture, Engineering and ICT”, he added

He further disclosed that the focus of the Year 2022 zonal intervention on improving and expanding ICT capabilities was in recognition of the fact that the world has gone digital in practically all areas of human endeavours.

“We must therefore take deliberate steps to catch up with the rest of the world in the ICT space for needed national development’

“At the Fund, we are reviewing our processes for enhanced and better services delivery to our beneficiary institution. We are currently reworking our 2007 edition of Guidelines for Disbursement and will make it available to you when completed.

“We have also done some internal auditing of our staff to achieve better efficiency in the deployment to various departments of the Fund. We also requested you to do the same with respect to TETFund Desk officers and a summary of our expectations will also be presented at this forum.

“We are hopeful that these and other similar measures will place the Fund in a better position to discharge its mandate and functions to the nation,” he said.

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