The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, says consultations are ongoing to suspend foreign scholarships as a result of current exchange rate.
The Executive Secretary of the fund, Sonny Echono made this known at a public hearing on alleged missing N2.3 trillion in TETFUND between 2011 to date, organised by an Ad hoc Committee of the House of Representatives.
He said that the tax accruable to the fund is generated by Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and the fund’s account is domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Mr Echono said that some of the tax come in foreign currencies to CBN but when it is time to pay fees for scholars abroad, the apex bank insist TETFUND source forex, making the fund lose value.
According to him, we operate a system where our forex is being sold on our behalf at official rate and we apply like anybody else to get it, sometimes it leads to additional cost.
He urged the committee to intervene and compel CBN to allow TETFUND access its forex to pay fees as at when due.
“Currently as I speak, we are in consultations with all our stakeholders to suspend for a year or two, foreign training.
“This is because of the recent exchange rate adjustments, we are unable to continue based on our disbursement guideline; the money we allocated in naira cannot cover the dollar requirement for training.
“Those who are currently there, we now need more naira to pay for the dollar that is required for their annual fees,” he said.
Mr Echono said that the fund had l identified curses where Nigerian universities have competence and the right quality of faculty to run.
He said that the fund had earlier decided that only limited curses “where we do not have capacity in our institutions will qualify for foreign sponsorship.”
The executives-secretary announced that most training will now be done local through the experienced, first generation universities and other specialised universities here in Nigeria to retain revenue to cope the the exchange rate.
However, Mr Echono said that no fewer than 137 sponsored scholars have absconded from 40 institutions abroad.
He said that some scholars who are sent for foreign training to acquire higher qualifications, unpatriotically refuse to return to Nigeria to serve.
He said that TETFund was working with other stakeholders on stringent measures saying that before anyone ponsored, bond must be signed.