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When Senate seeks increase in Education Tax to boost research

By Guardian Nigeria
08 September 2022   |   5:18 am
Research has often been described as the cornerstone of development of any nation. Aside solving practical problems, research leads to the intellectual development of individuals that make up the society.

ES, TETFund flanked by members, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions on their recent oversight function on TETFund

Research has often been described as the cornerstone of development of any nation. Aside solving practical problems, research leads to the intellectual development of individuals that make up the society.

 
It was based on this understanding that the Senate, represented by its committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), called for an upward review of Education Tax from its current 2.5 per cent to three per cent.
 
The Education Trust Fund (ETF), now Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act of 2011 (as amended), is an intervention agency set up to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions, with the main objective of using the fund for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria.   
 
The Education Tax Act No 7 of 1993, mandated the fund to operate as an intervention fund for all levels of public education (federal, state and local).
 
Consequently, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is empowered by the education Act to assess and collect Education Tax while TETFund, also known as “The Fund” has the duty to administer the tax by disbursing same to educational institutions at federal, state and local government levels. It also monitors the projects executed with the funds allocated to beneficiaries.
 
According to the Senate Committee led by its chairman, Ahmed Baba Kaita, the 2. 5 per cent Education Tax paid from accessible profit of companies registered in Nigeria has made significant contributions towards improving tertiary education in Nigeria through several interventions.
 
The committee, satisfied with the performance of the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Architect Sonny Echono, described him as a performer. The committee recalled his transformation drive when he served as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, and hoped that he will be able to replicate the same vision and mission in TETFund.
 
The Committee identified education and health as two most crucial sectors, which drive the development of any nation and consequently, canvassed for increase in education financing in the country. Having opened discussion on the issue, the lawmakers expressed optimism that it would be actualised by the next National Assembly.
 
Architect Echono, who spoke earlier had appreciated the Committee for its usual support. He said that the harmony existing between the National Assembly and Education Sector was responsible for most of the achievements recorded in the sector in past seven years.
 
He was particularly grateful to the National Assembly for considering the passage of Finance Act last year, which he recalled, brought about the increase in Education Tax to its current 2.5 per cent.
 
He noted that TETFund has the highest level of disbursement in the past seven to eight years, and that through the 2.5 per cent tax, the Fund has trained over 35000 academic staff both in the country and abroad with the plan to expand the number.  The Fund has also established Centres for Excellence in 24 institutions as a way of making them relevant to the society by helping to solve societal problems.
 
He stated that the increase was effected on the recognition and share acceptance of the need to increase funding and investment in the nation’s education sector.
 
Ochono also informed his guests that in 2021, TETFund disbursed N213billion to tertiary institutions. This included the take-off grants for newly established institutions.
 
The ES used the opportunity of the August visitors to highlight some of the major reforms carried out in the Fund since he assumed office months back. Some of the programmes of action include promoting employability of graduates, empowering tertiary institutions on ICT, digitalizing thesis, introduction of anti-plagiarism; promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the tertiary institutions.
 
Another giant stride promised by the ES in the coming year is completion of all the abandoned projects in the nation’s tertiary institutions. To effectively carry out this task, a comprehensive list of the projects and institutions have been drown for the purpose of executing them in phases.
 
As a true leader, the TETFund boss did not accord all the commendations to himself. He attributed the reforms to a combined efforts of his team as well as an efficient internal operation measures put in place by the management.
 
For Echono, this is just the beginning of good things to come. He has pledged to continue in his giant stride but not without the continued support of the legislators. Meanwhile, over 200 projects await commissioning soon.

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