A group calling itself, Guyana’s Private Schools United today (Thursday, March 23, 2017) organized and hosted its first protest against Valued Added Tax (VAT) on Private Education in the Main Street Avenue, Georgetown; across from the Ministry of Finance.
One parent, Robert Williams said often times parents are scraping together resources to give their children the best possible opportunities. According to Mr. Williams, “many persons are receiving remittances from abroad; many people are doing two-three jobs, many people are paying their school fees in tranches.”
He has also called out members of Government who opt to send their children to private schools rather than public institutions.
“I would like to ask a question, ‘Would any of the Government ministers consider sending their children to the schools that they are saying the general populace should send their children to?’; I think not” Williams said.
Mr. Williams is now calling for a suspension and review of VAT on Private Education because as he says the decision was unconscionable.
“Just as how our President and our Government came out and say suspend the parking meter for three months, I am saying suspend this VAT for three months, go back to the board, look at it, talk to the stakeholders and come back to us again” Williams stated.
Another parent, who said she wanted to remain anonymous described the VAT on Private Education as an attack on her freedom of choice and also questioned whether public schools would be properly equipped to cater to the thousands of students in the private school system now that some parents are forced to change schools due to cost.
This tax on Private Education was a measure of Budget 2017 which saw Private Education services and supplies being removed from the zero-rated list of items.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan during a joint press conference with Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia, on the matter, told members of the media that the top eight private schools that are registered with the tax body had raked in close to two billion dollars in revenue just last year and could absorb the VAT and not pass it on to parents.
Nevertheless, today scores of parents congregated in the Main Street Avenue protesting the VAT on Private Education including former Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand.
These parents have indicated to News Room that their children’s schools would have sent home notices of the change in fees with the addition of the tax.