The Executive Secretary Tertiary Education Trust Fund Mr Sunday Echonnu, says the federal government had borrowed over there hundred and seventy one billion naira over time to meet pressing needs.
Mr Echonnu disclosed this when he appeared before the house of Representatives adhoc committee, investigating the alleged abuse of N2.3 trillion generated from the Tertiary Education Tax by the Fund from 2011 to 2023.
According to him, the allegation was not true, saying the actual sum generated from education tax from 2011 to 2022 was N2.476 trillion out of which the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) retained N99 billion as cost of collection.
He said the Federal Government since 2013 had borrowed N371.3 billion from the Fund out of which it has paid N48 billion so far.
“We do have challenges but these challenges have nothing to do with fraud. They are basically issues of governance and I would start by explaining what the challenges are. First in absolute terms so we have a clear picture of what we are talking about.
“The FG acknowledges that it was borrowing and we have full documentation of this and all the correspondences that accompanied it. Other borrowings since then are being tabulated and given to you. We did secure presidential approval for the refund of this borrowing since 2015 and the FG has been refunding albeit in piecemeal.
The Executive Secretary called on the Ad hoc Committee to assist the Fund in recovering the money, and compel the CBN to allow TETFUND access to forex to pay fees as at when due.
Mr Echonnu who said consultations are ongoing to suspend foreign scholarships as a result of the current exchange rate, added that the Fund had decided that only limited courses where they do not have capacity in Nigerian institutions will qualify for foreign sponsorship.
He lamented the some of the scholars that have been sponsored, unpatriotically refuse to come back, saying they are working with the staff unions for stringent and effective measures to be taken.