By By Benjamin Arida
Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has set an ambitious target of N500 billion education tax collection for the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, in 2021.
Chairman, TETFund Board of Trustees, BoT, Alhaji Kashim Imam, who disclosed this at the 2020 TETFund/FIRS Joint Interactive Forum in Ilorin, Kwara State, said the new target was necessary as the number of beneficiary public institutions has risen to 226.
Imam said the fund was on course to surpass the N277 billion mark set for 2020, adding that as at September, education tax collection had already hit N251 billion, and that the figure could rise up to N300 billion by the end of December 2020.
“I am happy to report that for about two to three years now we have been in the region of N250 billion. TETFund’s budget for this year was N250 billion; for this year, TETFund gave the Federal Inland Revenue Service a target of N277 billion for the year 2020. We are very much on course not only to actualise that target but to surpass that target.
“As at the end of September, collection was in the region of N251 billion; if we are lucky, we may actually hit N300 billion by 31st of December.
“We have set a new target already for 2021 and that target is the sum of N500 billion. Considering the magnitude of the challenges facing tertiary education in Nigeria, we cannot afford to do less,” he said.
Speaking on the theme of the forum titled, “New Trust in Sustaining the EDT collection during COVID-19 Pandemic for Effective Service Delivery of the Mandate of the Fun,” he said TETFund was not comfortable with just sustaining collection as each year the fund makes effort to ensure improvement in its tax collection.
Imam noted that the fund has interacted with the Federal Inland Revenue Service over the 2021 target and FIRS made commitment toward meeting the N500 billion mark set by TETFund.
“The partnership between TETFund and FIRS is one that is made in heaven and it has worked effectively in the past nine years in addressing lunch, all the problems of tertiary institutions across the country.
He assured that TETFund’s Board of Trustees was determined to do more and prove that public agencies can deliver services to the people with integrity, adding that the fund was determined to impact more and achieve more.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, FIRS, Muhammad Nami, said TETFund and FIRS have forged a relationship that has endured for 27 years since an act was enacted establishing the education tax fund.
Nami, who was represented by the FIRS Director in charge of Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara, Mr Ishola Akingbode, said the agency moved from zero tax activities to perform greatly in 2013, adding that the collection for 2020 will exceed what was collected previously.
He said a lot of modalities are being put in place to ensure seamless collection of the 2 per cent education tax collection, adding that despite being a difficult year, FIRS has put machinery in place to ensure that taxes are collected.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof Suleiman Bogoro, stressed the need to increase the drive for education tax collection as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected economic activities and could likely affect education tax.
Bogoro said since 2013, when education tax collection rose to N279 billion, FIRS has been striving to achieve the annual 2 per cent education tax collections.
Represented by the Director Finance, TETFund, Alhaji Idris Saidu, the TETFund boss noted that over the years, the fund has performed creditably well notwithstanding the increased number of institutions and limited resources.
He said the fund was taking practical steps to put the nation on a revolutionary path of a knowledge-based economy by ensuring increase of the national research fund to N7.5, establishment of 12 centres of excellence and inauguration of a standing Committee on R&D to facilitate and accelerate the outcome of research.