The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) says it has budgeted a significant increase in annual direct disbursements in response to improvement in tax collections.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, made this known in Abuja on Tuesday at an Interactive session with heads of beneficiary institutions on the disbursement guidelines for 2024 intervention cycle.
The executive secretary, who appreciated the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for its diligent efforts in collecting the education taxes, said that the 2023 collection was being allocated by the fund for the 2024 intervention projects.
Echono also said that its 2023 collection of education tax was the highest in a single year since inception.
The TETFund boss also attributed the high revenue to increases approved by the former and present administrations to 3 per cent of accessible profit and other factors diligently implemented by the FIRS in collaboration with the TETFund.
Speaking on the proposed areas of focus under the 2024 intervention programme, he said TETFund had budgeted a significant increase in annual direct disbursements in response to improvement in tax collections.
According to him, 90.54 per cent of taxes generated is budgeted for direct disbursement and designated 6.5 per cent for some projects and 2.94 for stabilisation to enable the fund respond to emerging issues, all of which are subject to final distribution/approvals.
“The proposed new interventions in the annual direct disbursement include the establishment of Career Centre/Unit in all categories of beneficiary institutions, as well as institution-based skills development for polytechnics to improve the employability and career prospects of students.
“For the Special Direct Disbursement, we have increased the allocation and number of beneficiary institutions for the Special High Impact Programme (SHIP),” he said.
He added m that SHIP would also focus on “provision of hostels using the Public Private Partnership arrangement for selected beneficiary institutions.
“We have sustained provisions for: Disaster recovery, Security Infrastructure; and Completion of abandoned projects.
“We have also sustained allocations for Research including National Research Fund Research and Innovation Fund, Up take of research findings to commercialisation, supervision of scholars Phd research.
“We have made provision for 4 Central Multipurpose Laboratories and an additional provision for the 3 Agricultural Laboratories/Farms initiated in 2023.
“We have sustained the implementation of the ICT roadmap with provision for converged services, subscription services for fixed cable /internet access and the Tertiary Education Research Application Services (TERAS) initiative.
“There will be upgrade of Laboratories, Workshops and Equipment to Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education (Technical) for the 2024 Intervention Year. There will also be the Early grade resource centers phase II to Colleges of Education (NCCE),” he said.
He described the year 2023 as “an impactful year that had witnessed series of programmes such as the development of the TETFund ICT roadmap culminating in the deployment of the BIMS and launching of the TERAS platforms.
He added that there had also been the commencement of the designs and strategy for the innovation hubs to selected beneficiary institutions, and the constitution of the committee for the establishment of two central research laboratories.
Echono expressed the fund’s determination to deepen research, promote innovation and honing of skills, encourage the discovery and development of creative talents amongst scholars and especially the students as a major pillar of the renewed hope agenda of the present administration.
He appealed to external stakeholders, including the National Assembly, to minimise distractions as TETFund mobilises, harnesses and efficiently deploys all hands to the plough in restoring the tertiary institutions to the enviable heights envisioned by President Bola Tinubu.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr David Adejo, described TETFund as one of the agencies that gave succour to government when problems with unions in tertiary institutions arose.
Adejo commended the management of the fund for deciding to raise the disbursement percentage to 90.54 per cent instead of leaving it at the over 80 per cent disbursed in 2023.
According to him, the current administration has started weaning universities, polytechnics and colleges of education of government resources, something that should have begun long ago.
On his part, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education(NCCE), Prof. Paulinus Okwelle, who also commended the fund for its activities and direct disbursements said there were no abandoned projects in colleges of education across the country.
Okwelle said some projects started by the fund in 2023 were already being commissioned, indicating that provosts of the colleges were doing very well in supervising the projects.
He however called for the maintenance of old infrastructures in some colleges of education as they were gradually decaying.