By Stacy Carmichael-James
Parents, students and other members of civil society today continued the protest against the 14 percent Value Added Tax on private education, even as Government has officially announced that there will be no changes for 2017.
The concerned group took the peaceful protest outside of the Ministry of the Presidency, Vlissengen Road on Wednesday, where the call for the 14 percent VAT on private education to be removed was reiterated.
Last week the State Minister announced that while there will be no changes to this decision for 2017; Government would be reviewing not only the VAT on private tuition but the entire VAT regime during its 2018 Budget preparation.
However, despite this, the parents and other supporters are insisting that the additional tax is burdensome.
“We are still protesting because, by the time 2018 comes around, students in the private schools would have diminished at least by 30 percent,” said one private tertiary student, who noted that some 30 to 40 percent of parents of students in private schools can no longer afford it. He questioned, “so those children would drop out of school? Can the Government support all these students in the public sector?”
His argument was supported by other parents who are contending that 2018 is too long of a wait. Another said her four daughters are currently attending private schools and with the 14 percent VAT, it would be very difficult for her. She called on the Government to fix the public education system, arguing that if this was done, there would be no need for some parents to struggle to send their children to private institutions.
Guyana Private Schools United is calling on other persons to support the movement and condemn the Government’s move to have private school fees taxed. The group of parents and supporters want the decision immediately revoked.
The Government is maintaining that the private institutions are able to absorb the VAT and not pass it on to the parents.