By Etuka Sunday
The Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) yesterday disclosed it has commenced the implementation of a new policy of remitting the allowances of its Scholars Studying in foreign Universities in naira denominated visa debit cards.
The Fund said, there are over 600 Nigerian youths currently undergoing different study programmes in oil and gas related disciplines at undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels in various universities abroad under PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme.
Apart from paying the tuition fees of its scholars directly to the universities of study, the Fund also pays allowances covering living, accommodation, utility, books, laptop and other incidentals directly to the scholars.
A statement by the Head, Press and External Relations, PTDF, Kalu Otisi Said, the Fund resorted to paying the allowances of its Overseas Scholars in Naira due to the difficulties in accessing scarce foreign exchange and the high cost and delays associated with processing and remittance in foreign currency.
A test run of the new payment system was successfully implemented with the distribution of Naira VISA cards to 150 ongoing scholars in UK Universities while arrangements are on to exten the new payment system to the rest of the scholars.
New scholars of the Fund who will be commencing their studies in the 2014/2015 academic year are being issued the Naira VISA cards at the point of departure to their universities of study.
The statement said, the Executive Secretary of the Fund, Mr. Femi Ajayi had visited some PTDF scholars in the United Kingdom, where he intimated them on the new payment system instituted as part of measures to address some of the challenges confronting their academic and welfare issues “you may be aware of the difficulties and continuing challenges in accessing foreign exchange due to its scarcity and high cost of processing.
The Fund in its continued effort to find better ways of addressing the hardship faced by scholars as a result of delayed remittance of allowances, decided to make payments of all allowances in Naira, which before now has been in foreign exchange.
It has become absolutely necessary to implement this policy shift to ensure swift payment of all allowances as at when due, because of the high cost of foreign exchange and even the time it takes to do the conversion”.
He therefore urged the scholars to complete the account opening forms presented to them and activate the card account by changing the sealed PIN accompanying the Naira Visa Card. “The card would enable you to spend the British Pound equivalent of your allowances as measures have been put in place to ensure you are not underpaid or shortchanged in anyway” he said.