The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Kashim Ibrahim Imam has stressed the need to sustain education tax collection for the fund’s continuous intervention in the country’s tertiary institutions.
Imam, who said this at the 2020 joint TETFund/Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) interactive forum, in Lagos, expressed concern that the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the world economy, including Nigeria, saying that decisive and stronger measures need to be taken to ameliorate the effects of the present day reality.
Imam, who spoke on the theme, ‘New Thrust in Sustaining the EDT collection during COVID-19 Pandemic for Effective Service Delivery of the Mandate of the Fund’, said the fund has been bedeviled with the challenge of meeting the target of Education Tax (EDT) collection over the years.
He added that with the current state of the economy and the realities of the time, it will likely face the same challenge except with deliberate and concerted efforts.
“Given the realities of our time, there is need for improved effort to cushion the effects of the likely downturn of EDT collections.”
He stated that the synergy between the fund and FIRS atis vital to the transformation evident in public tertiary institutions across Nigeria.
“This was achieved as a result of joint delivery of complementary services by providing amiable and lasting solutions to our beneficiaries.”
“In addition, the successful strategic partnerships over the years can be attributed toqthe strong, relentless commitment and cooperation by the leadership of both organisations and zeal to improve education in the country.”
The chairman, who disclosed that the fund has just ended its nationwide tour of institutions to access projects built from its funding, said there are over 10,000 projects across institutions in Nigeria with a budget of N250 billion.
“We are out to prove that public institutions give good account of themselves.”
Asked about the call for the funding of private universities in the country, Imam said, “Private institutions are for profit making. If we start giving them funds, it means we would start excluding the children of the less privileged from accessing quality education.”
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of the fund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro, who corroborated Imam on funding of private institutions, said the idea is non-negotiable.
He noted that in terms of population, the ratio of students in public institutions compared to private is 94 per cent to six per cent.
He said in spite of the increasing number of beneficiary institutions and limited funds available for interventions, TETFund has performed credibly well over the years in transforming tertiary education in Nigeria. He said though there was a steady rise in education tax from 1999 to 2009, which he put at N5 billion to N139 billion and a decline in 2010 (N89 billion) and a big rise again in 2011 (N128 billion), 2012 (N188 billion) and 2013 (N279 billion), the tax collected subsequently to date has been fluctuating.
He however said TETFund would ensure to deepen its collaboration with FIRS to enhance revenue collection drive for the fund so as to surpass target budget to be able to do more schools.
He said there is additional mandate now which is research and innovation for which President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the upward review of the National Research Fund from N5 billion in 2019 to N7.5 billion this year and also the establishment and funding of 12 centres of excellence, six medical research centres and six colleges of medicine across regions of the country.
The Executive Chairman of FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami said though it is becoming more challenging to collect taxes as many individuals and companies ordinarily don’t like to pay tax, the agency would employ all necessary machinery, especially technology to ensure it improves on its mandates.
Represented by the Director of Medium Tax Department, FIRS, Mr. Kabir Abba, FIRS boss assured TETFund of surpassing its target, saying it is always willing to collect the education tax because of the obvious significant impacts of the money on the beneficiary schools and the economy.