The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is seeking the support of the National Assembly (NASS) towards meeting its target of three percent education tax collection before the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari tenure in order to increase funding for public tertiary educational institutions in the country.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund Arc. Sonny Echono stated this when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, led by Hon. Aminu Suleiman, paid him an oversight visit in his office in Abuja recently.
Arc. Echono noted that given President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment on increased funding for education, and the usual support of the National Assembly, the tax rate was increased from 2 to 2.5 per cent last year.
“The target is that before the end of this administration, it will increase to three per cent, which is a commitment that the President has already given to the Global Partnership for Education,” Echono said.
Echono further commended the level of support and cooperation the Fund has enjoyed from the committee and the National Assembly, while seeking its support in effecting the amendment of the education tax law.
“This is a major area that will be seeking the support of the National Assembly in terms of legislation.
“The other aspect is the fact that in contravention of this oversight, we also want to open our activities more to independent assessment and evaluation on our behalf.
“So we have designed a monitoring and evaluation template that will be involving key stakeholders, like the National Assembly, even the staff unions in our tertiary institutions, to join us independently look at some of the things that we’re doing,” he added.
Speaking on the operations of the Fund and the state of finances, especially from 2017 to date, Echono stated that last year’s collection, which is what the Fund used to operate this year, dropped to N189bn.
“We witness a steady rise in collections under the education tax but unfortunately, last year, for the 2021 there was a sharp drop and that left us in a very dire position.
“For example, as I said, from N154 billion in 2017, the tax collection rose steadily to N257 billion over the years.
“So by 2020, we’ve got N257 billion, but unfortunately, last year’s collection, which is what we use to operate this year, dropped sharply to N189 billion.
“So over N60 billion drop revenue or resources available to TETfund and the way we operate, 2021 collections are used for 2022 operations.”
Responding, Suleiman assured the Fund of its unflinching support and cooperation to ensure that the system continues to serve stronger and better.
“We congratulate you and we assure you of our support, without prejudice to the fact that sometimes we can agree to disagree;
“Even when you were the Permanent Secretary, there were times we disagreed entirely with the ministry, but not predicated on any personal motive; and in most cases, we actually arrived at the surface.
“I have no doubt that our relationship will continue here. The essence is for us, like I said, to better the system,” Suleiman said.
The legislator said the visit was a legislative routine to appreciate
challenges facing government agencies.