Student loan: Reps propose 3% hike

Student loan: Reps propose 3% hike

Student loan: Reps propose 3% hike

Following President Tinubu’s commitment to making students loan functional and beneficial to Nigerian students, the House of Representatives has proposed a three percent hike in annual revenue generation

The lawmakers under the auspices of ad hoc committee on Students Loan Fund and Access to Higher Education in a meeting yesterday, proposed an increase of three per cent, up from the initial one per cent for students loan from revenue generated in the country annually as recently announced by the Federal Government.

This was made known by the ad hoc committee Chairman, Terseer Ugboh, at a public hearing in Abuja yesterday.

The hearing was to determine the level of progress made by the presidential committee constituted to remove all impediments hindering access to the loan fund.

The chairman said, “We hope the system you are creating will be robust enough to take account of students who are already in school who want the loan to cover for the one year or two years of their schooling or students who are coming through direct entry.

“It seems to us from this perspective that one per cent of the Federal Government Revenue as stated in the act would not be enough to cover students loans for a year given the hundreds of thousands of students that we have getting admission every year and those who are currently in school who may wish to also apply for a loan to cover for other years of their schooling.

“I want to suggest that there is a need to increase the requirement from one per cent to three per cent. Then propose that and we are ever willing to look at it. It is something that is quite critical.

“This is the area that the Ministry of Education can also hold on for it to jerk up to at least three per cent of this revenue.

“Now we are hearing that the states or local governments may or may not permit that deduction, so, I think there may be a Constitutional amendment before that one per cent may be drawn. So if that is not done, the Federal Government can only draw from its own share of revenue which means state universities may be excluded if the State Governments do not agree to participate in funding this student loan from their allocation from the Federal Government.

“The issue of transparency is very key to a scheme like this. One of the reasons why (sic) many previous schemes failed was the issue of transparency and commitment to executing these schemes. You want to create a system that is technologically enabled so that issue of godfatherism will be out.

“The National Assembly is the arm of government that does appropriation and you mentioned that with the current Act as it is. You suggested that there could be a supplementary budget so that this scheme can start up.

“But we can’t propose a supplementary budget if we don’t have an idea of what you think this student loans scheme will cost Nigeria,” he stated.

The Director of Legal Services of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kofo Alada, who spoke on behalf of the Technical Committee said a supplementary budget was necessary for the take-off of the scheme, even as he assured that his team had set a target earlier than November this year.

He said: “We are technical people working and the kind of process flow that we are looking at is something that Nigeria will be proud of.

“What I will request or recommend to this Committee is that of the funding requirement of this project, this body has the power to convene and say we want to give a supplementary budget for this particular project. It is within your power and it is better to plan for this.

“With what has been done by you, and the 9th National Assembly, what we should do is that let’s look at how we can work together. That’s why we are presenting this amendment to you. I am requesting the committee that rather than giving us stillbirth, be the vehicle that will give the lift for implementation.”

Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejoh assured that the scheme would kick-off in the 2023/2024 academic session which may begin in October or December this year.

“The assurances I give to you are based on what I see. First is that no academic session in Nigeria is starting before September. Remember, because of the strike, apart from private and some state universities, the academic calendar has been moved back

“So what we are saying now is, it might not be a 100 per cent catchment but the loan is going to start in the 2023/2024 academic session. It can be October, it can be November depending on the school. Between October and November, we still stand a good chance.

 

“Once the technical committee finishes and comes to the main committee, then we will revert to the National Assembly with the clean bill. I know we can start this loan in the 2023/2024 academic session,” he said

 

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