Ambika Ramraj 0

Education is a necessity, let it be VAT free

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Petition re 14% VAT on education fees

The purpose of this petition is to appeal the recent imposition of a 14% VAT tax on education-related expenses. It is not presented with any political agenda nor is it presented as an appeal on behalf of private schools. Rather it is presented as an issue which affects us all in Guyana.

The imposition of the 14% VAT on private schools however will, of course, impact very heavily on the children and youth attending those schools. For some, the perception is that anyone who attends a private school must be wealthy. That perception may be true for a certain percentage but, for the majority, attendance at such schools often represents a real sacrifice by a family member.

One of the most popular courses in Guyana, with more than 1,000 students, is the ABE programme with courses, for school leavers, in business, management, travel and tourism and computer technology. The students have been informed, a few days ago, that with immediate effect, their fees have now been increased by 14%. A number of these students pay the fees in G$100 bills, this new imposition may simply mean they stop the course, stay home and lose hope and add to the growing numbers of the unemployed and unemployable.

Nations may not be alone in having a pro bono branch. The branch for Nations is in Berbice. They have been supported for more than 15 years by scholarship support from Nations in Georgetown and by persons from overseas. Those same sponsors from overseas when they are now told that an additional 14% is required to pay in government taxes will simply send their donations to other countries.

But it is not only children at full time attendance at private schools who will bear the burden of this 14% levy, it is in fact almost every home in the country as parents find they are paying more for pencils, crayons and basic school supplies.

The only hope for Guyana moving forward is an educated, motivated pool of youth who see Guyana as theirs. This new tax does nothing to further that vision, that sense of optimism, the idea that they can rise out of poverty.

This petition is addressed to the politicians, economists, and strategists who made the decision to impose this levy and to simply ask them to seek some other means to raise revenue. A tax on education is surely not the path to take in 2017.

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