VAT on tuition fees: Protesters promise to continue if tax not revoked

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 …after discussions with Govt on Friday

Despite Government’s decision to meet with stakeholders on Friday to discuss the imposition of 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private tuition fees, several protesters have indicated that they are not very optimistic about the outcome of that meeting.

Moreover, protesters asserted that if, following discussions with the stakeholders Government does not revoke the tax, then they [protesters] will continue to protest against it.

Speaking to media operatives today, during another protest held outside of the Ministry of Education on Brickdam, students and parents alike questioned the intention of the Government with regards to hosting the meeting on Friday, at 11:00hrs.

“First of all, you’re calling a discussion on Friday, which is a working day- in the middle of the day. The Minister and the Government didn’t think about this before they decided to call a meeting? People are working. People have to find the means of paying [their already implemented] 14% [on private education]…This is to suit themselves [Government], not to suit people who want to come out, so chances are, people who actually have things to say will not be there,” a Tourism student of Nations University told INews.

Another protester noted that the number of people to turn out for the discussion with the Government on Friday does not matter. “If the Government is making a genuine gesture, it’s not about the number of people but the number of issues and concerns and with that is room for discussion and dialogue on education as a whole, so that’s what I hope will happen,” a Bishop from the Catholic Church, Mr Francis Allen said.

Other protesters stood in the glaring sun, holding placards which called for the immediate revocation of the implementation of VAT on education, as many indicated that it is too burdensome.

“I am a student and also I am a parent of a child in Private School. I have made that decision [to attend and send my child to a private institution] for a number of reasons. I’m not saying that the public schools are not good, but I have made that decision based on my life and I’m sacrificing just like a lot of people; should I be penalized for that?” said a female protester.

“If the Government says-as they did before-that VAT on education is here to stay then we will do other things, we will find other ways to get the message over that we don’t want this, because you know, we’re fighting for something. Not because somebody says no you can’t have it, it means your fight goes away,” Mark Kazim stressed.
Following a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, a decision was taken for a team of Government Ministers to meet with parents and operators of private schools on Friday April 7, 2017 at the National Cultural Centre (NCC).

According to a release, the government is inviting all relevant stakeholders to attend the consultation to ensure a frank and open discussion.

Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine also gave a commitment that “we are prepared to hear what the concerns are and see how best we can address them.”

Since its application, Government’s 14 per cent tax on private education has received widespread condemnation. There have been protests, the venues for which have alternated between the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Education. (Ramona Luthi)

See more photos captured by INews photographer, Carl Croker, during today’s protest:


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