The chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Senator Binta Garba, has said that the Senate will amend and review existing tertiary institution Acts and laws to make them more effective.
The proposed review by the Senate, she said, became necessary in order to streamline the existing laws and Acts and to come up with a concrete and comprehensive legislation for all tertiary institutions in the country.
Garba, who spoke to reporters in Abuja on Wednesday to mark this year’s Global Action Week for Education organized by ActionAid Nigeria, also said that the Senate would look at policies of government to know areas where they have worked and failed.
The senator explained that inadequate funding of education in the country was affecting children, especially girls.
Garba noted that the unacceptably number of out-of-school children in Nigeria portends great danger to the country.
She said: “We are working on legislative roundtable and to look at the quality of education in Nigeria. We want to see how we can amend existing laws that are in abeyance with each other and lacunars to see how we can streamline it and come with a concrete and comprehensive legislation for all tertiary institutions in the country.
“Basically, what we will do is to look at policy of government and to see areas where such policy is working and to see areas where such policies have failed and to see how they will add more energy to areas that is working well and to put less energy in areas that is not working well.
“There is an outcry of lack of funding within the institutions. But if you look at the budget being proposed by government, there is an increase of over 4 per cent from the normal budget. Before now, the budgetary allocation to education ranged between 6 – 8 per cent but now with this year’s budget, it has increased to about 12 per cent.
The senator said that Nigeria loses $2.9 billion annually to corporate tax incentives and waivers.
The figure, she said, could help provide quality education for out – of- school children in Nigeria.
“In 2015, UNESCO figures showed that 10.5 million Nigerian children were out of school. Yet we are giving away $2.9 billion annually by way of tax incentives and waivers, despite evidence that they are not necessary to attract investors. $2.9 billion could help pay for all the children who are currently out of school to received many years of quality education.
“Moreover, it begs the question, what do we really mean when we chant the mantra ‘one of the fastest growing economies in the world’ if we are failing to educate our children? In which economy do we want our uneducated children to partake in? And how do we sustain an economy with a population we have failed to educate?
“The issue of adequate funding for quality education for our children must receive government attention. The federal and state governments cannot keep talking about empty treasures. We must fund our children’s futures through having a fair tax system, a tax system that is not hampered by restrictive tax treaties or unfair incentives and waivers.
“It should be noted that when there are no funds for quality public schools, it is girls that suffer the most. Safe schools, salaries and training for teachers, books and relevant instrumental materials, these are all paid for by tax.”
She called on the Federal Government to stop granting harmful corporate tax incentives, and stop excessively restrictive tax treaties.
Garba urged the government to put in place mechanism for curbing tax avoidance practices of multinationals and large corporations and spend increased tax revenue on financing quality public education, especially for girls.
She said: “Nigerian government should review current policies and practices and discontinue the granting of excessive and harmful tax incentives. Any tax incentives granted should build on a solid cost-benefit analysis to ensure the immense social needs in the country are taken into consideration.
“The decision process should be open to public debate, scrutiny and parliamentary oversight. To secure accountability to its electorate, the government must publish an analysis of the expected costs and benefits of the incentives. The federal government should systematically count and publish the full cost of tax incentives through published tax expenditure reports.
“We also want multinational companies to be transparent about their finances, including reporting their profits, sales, assets, number of employees and tax payments to governments in each country where operate, including taxes not paid due to tax breaks.”