Speaker complicit in the Executive’s aim to control the Legislature- PPP

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…says in response to their motion against VAT on private education being disallowed in Parliament 

Parliament

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says the actions by Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, to disallow their motion, calling for the removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education, from proceeding in the National Assembly ” exposes the Speaker as complicit in the executive’s unfolding objective to seize control over the legislature”.

The motion, which was to be moved by former Education Minister Priya Manickchand on Monday, stated that impact of the onerous budgetary measures has caused great consternation and anxiety for parents and students, and the future of students’ rights to access education of their choice, inclusive of private education, as provided for in the Constitution.

However, the Speaker in a letter dated May 4, that was seen by this publication, instructed that the motion, if allowed, would be in contravention of Standing Order No 26(e), which states that for a motion to be admissible, it shall not revive discussion of a matter which has been discussed in the same session.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland

“I wish to reminded you that the revocation of Order No 18 of 2016 and the reinstatement of Schedules 1 and 11 which existed prior to Order No. 18 were discussed by the National Assembly at its Sitting on 30th January, 2017, during the consideration of Ms Gail Teixeira’s motion which was published on Notice Paper No. 82 of 2017 dated 15th January, 2017. That motion was defeated,” the Speaker outlined in his letter.

According to the PPP, the grounds  by the Speaker to disallow the motion “are irregular, spurious and ludicrous.”

Moreover the Party believes the  AFC “desperate to not be exposed for duplicity, having publicly called for the review of VAT on education, and, the government, desperate to impose unity on this issue within the shaky coalition, put pressure on the Parliament Office to remove the PPPC’s motion calling for the revocation of VAT on education goods and services and its reinstatement as zero rated.”

Cabinet recently ruled that the VAT on private education will remain for the rest of the year, after which it might be reviewed in 2018.

However, in an about turn from it previous position in support of VAT on private education, the Alliance For Change (AFC) signalled its intention to challenge Government’s collective decision and push for an earlier review.

See PPP’s full statement below:

After months of weekly protests, a petition signed by 14,000 people, and growing hardships of parents and students as a result of the inhumane and onerous imposition of VAT on education goods and services, the government intervened and hammered another nail in Article 13 of the constitution.

A motion which the Speaker himself amended and approved was unceremoniously and suddenly withdrawn by the Speaker on grounds which are irregular, spurious and ludicrous.

The AFC, desperate to not be exposed for duplicity, having publicly called for the review of VAT on education, and, the government, desperate to impose unity on this issue within the shaky coalition, put pressure on the Parliament Office to remove the PPPC’s motion calling for the revocation of VAT on education goods and services and its reinstatement as zero rated.

This development exposes the Speaker as complicit in the executive’s unfolding objective to seize control over the legislature.

Civil society, individuals and communities have been demonstrating peacefully their views on a wide range of concerns that impact on their daily lives– the sugar workers, rice farmers, the Private Sector, the Movement against the Parking meters, the movement against Vat on education goods and services, the removal of the ban on used tyres, and thousands of individuals in their private capacity on the social media–yet the government’s only concern is to ensure that the people’s voices are not heard,  even in the highest law making body of the country.

We call on our people to be ever vigilant in exposing and speaking out against the whittling away of parliamentary democracy, our human rights and the constitution.

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