GCCI steps up call for Govt to rescind VAT on private education

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The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) has once again added its voice against the imposition of 14% VAT on private tuition and is urging the Government to rescind the tax with immediate effect.

In a press release issued today, the GCCI restated its earlier position, that is; VAT is a consumer tax and “it is the children/students, the parents of the children or aspiring professional who have to bear the brunt of this added expense”.

Even though the government has promised that the education tax will be re-examined in the next budget cycle, the private sector body is urging the government to consider changing this position urgently.

Following is the full statement:

In a matter of days, Guyana will be celebrating its 51st year of independence. Almost everyone would agree that over the last 51 years, one of the bedrock areas of agreement in this country has been that education has been a core commitment of every government since independence.  We might disagree about what subjects should be taught in schools or which prayers should be recited, but we have rarely wavered in our recognition that affordable universal education is a right bequeathed to the children of Guyana, for the sake of the country’s current and future well-being.

It’s against this compelling background that the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) joins the growing voices of reason and rationality in calling on the Government of Guyana to rescind the 14% VAT on private tuition with immediate effect.

The Government announced that 14% VAT on private tuition will be re-examined in the next budget cycle, we urge government to consider changing this position urgently and heed to call of a massive section of society.

VAT of education is not borne by the private school operators, at this point most or all schools have transferred this 14% tax on the parents of the children attending school.

VAT is a consumer tax and the consumer of education is the children/students, the parents of the children or aspiring professional have to bear the brunt of this added expense.

The GCCI questions the collective wisdom of the decision makers to impose this tax on development as it impedes structural building of capacity in Guyana.

The GCCI also raise the matter of local content capacity development in the oil and gas sector, as it relates to private training and development of personnel to supply this sector, this will be constrained by higher taxes as a result of the 14% VAT and will stymie development in this area.

Within weeks of the 14% of VAT on private tuition more than 10% of the 800 students at a leading private education institution have dropped out and joined the ever-swelling ranks of the unemployed and unemployable in Guyana.  Furthermore, if the thousands of students at the 8 Off-Shore Medical schools cannot find the additional 14%, they may soon join the ranks of the unemployed.

Many parents are sacrificing with difficulty during these challenging times in the economic affairs of our country in order to see their children have an education in a healthy, academic and secure environment.

If the proprietors of private schools are not meeting their tax liabilities, the Government has ways and means of dealing with those defaulters and we encourage government to go after those defaulters.  But with the interest of this country’s current and future well-being, we cannot stand by and remain silent.

We urge the government of Guyana to listen to the cries and voices of the silent majority of Guyanese in this critical matter of national importance, and rescind the punishing 14% imposition of VAT on private tuition.  Failing to do so does not merely punish the individuals who cannot afford the 14% imposition of VAT on private tuition, but also robs the rest of us of the opportunity to share in the good life that is possible when young people are enabled to reach their potential.

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