By Stacy Carmichael-James
The Government following its most recent Cabinet meeting has taken the decision that Value Added Tax on Education will remain for the rest of 2017, however during its 2018 budget planning a review of the VAT regime would be done.
The Government decision was on Thursday announced by State Minister Joseph Harmon during a post cabinet media conference.
This decision comes on the heels of a consultation with parents, teachers and other stakeholders at the National Cultural Centre, where the call was echoed for Government to not only review the VAT on private education but to remove it completely.
The resounding concern is that this places an added burden on parents who have to pay private school tuition fees.
However, the Coalition Government is maintaining that the owners of private educational institutions can pay the taxes without passing it onto the parents.
Minister Harmon told media operatives that cabinet last Tuesday after listening to the reviews by the Education Minister, Minister of Public Telecommunications and the Prime Minister, who were present at the consultation, committed to reviewing the VAT during the preparations for Budget 2018, which begins in June this year. He noted that “Cabinet undertook to have a review of not only the VAT on education but VAT generally going into our 2018 budget.”
Nevertheless, the State Minister said the Government is committed to ensuring that citizens are well-prepared for the development that will be taking place in Guyana. ” It is the belief of the Government that private and public schools are important to the education of the nation, that they all have a role to play in the education of our nation and that we are spending large sums of money on infrastructure and on training in the education sector and this is because of the commitment of this Government, ” said Harmon.
Having said this, the State Minister acknowledged that it is the private education institutions that “gobble up” many of the trained teachers who had their roots in the public education system.
It was during the last consultation to discuss the 14 percent VAT on private education that parents and teachers walked out on the Prime Minister, who ahead of the Cabinet meeting, revealed to them that Government will not be removing the VAT for 2017, but will review for 2018.
Concerned groups of parents, teachers, members of the private sector and students continue to protest the VAT on private education.