Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo in an interview with Inews reiterated his call for the government to reverse the imposition of 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education.
The Parliamentary Opposition threw its support behind educators such as Dr Brian O’Toole whose private institution, School of the Nations, has been fervently articulating against the imposition of 14 percent VAT on private education, while citing the deleterious consequences that would obtain should this imposition stay in effect.
According to the educator, “the only hope for Guyana moving forward is an educated, motivated pool of youth who see Guyana as theirs. This new tax does nothing to further that vision, that sense of optimism, the idea that they can rise out of poverty.”
The Opposition Leader is this time calling for the “immediate removal” of VAT on education and said that he is sticking to his earlier statement that if the government so badly needs revenue then they should “cut Ministerial salaries, overseas trips by Ministers and per diem allowances of Ministers by 50 percent. Our children’s education is a more worthwhile investment.”
A statement issued from the Office of the Opposition to the media on Tuesday last said that education has long proven itself to be the surest and safest vehicle to exit the vicious cycle of poverty and that taxing such a service is callous and cruel.
Jagdeo had said that under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration, they had encouraged the growth and proliferation of private schools throughout the country out of a firm belief that parents and children alike should have the freedom and option to access education from private as well as public schools and institutions.
“Apart from the economic benefits and job-creation opportunities which it generates, for those who own, operate and work in the system, it has made an undoubted contribution in raising the standard and quality of education in the country. Today, this private education system has become a fundamental supplement to public education in the country,” the statement noted.
More significantly, the Opposition Leader outlined was that the imposition of VAT on private educational institutions “would certainly amount to discrimination since, students and parents attending public schools do not bear this burden. This discriminatory treatment may amount to a violation of Article 149 of the Constitution of Guyana, which affords protection from discrimination, as a fundamental right and freedom of all of our people; and 149I of the Constitution, which provides that: ‘no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of the right to establish a private school which shall be under regulation by the State’.”
Meanwhile, civil society has responded vigorously against the “brain” tax. Students, parents, teachers, members of the business community and other disgruntled stakeholders are scheduled to hold a silent protest outside of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) tomorrow to protest 14 VAT on education among others, such a electricity, water and essential food items that were zero rated under the previous administration.
Persons from the Nations School of Business, Marian Academy, New Guyana School and other private educational institutions across the country have been invited to join the activity which is expected to start at 12:00hrs and last for one hour.
The protest action is just another in a list of activities being taken by civil society in expressing its disapproval of Government’s move to tax education.
On Friday last, the online and paper petitions calling for the removal of 14 percent (Value Added Tax) VAT on private education, which had reached 13, 460 signatures, was delivered to The Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) by the 6th form students attending Nations.