Apr 08, 2017 News
The issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education tuition is expected to be considered at the next Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. This is according to Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.
The First Vice President made the announcement, yesterday, at a meeting with owners and operators of private educational institutions along with students, parents and other stakeholders at the National Cultural Centre.
At the said meeting, Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, noted once again, that the matter remains under Cabinet consideration. Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, who moderated the extensive session, also indicated that Cabinet had mandated that the meeting take place and that it will fully consider the views expressed by all the stakeholders.
The Education Minister stated that government was committed to investing heavily in education. He cited the 2017 budget allocation of $43.1B which translates to 17.2% of the national budget.
Dr. Roopnaraine further noted that the education sector received the largest single budget allocation for 2017. Significant sums were being expended for the school feeding and school uniform programmes along with construction, expansion and renovation of schools, dormitories and other buildings.
The Minister of Education also acknowledged that the private education sector provides support to the public education sector, but that the large number of unregistered private schools needs to be addressed and regularized.
In support of his colleague, Prime Minister Nagamootoo also urged that all private schools be registered with the Ministry of Education and that they make efforts to become accountable and compliant with the laws, regulations and standards.
After listening to dozens of educators, students and parents, the First Vice President told the large audience at the National Cultural Centre that the ministerial team will take the concerns and views expressed to Cabinet on Tuesday for consideration, and an announcement will be made subsequently.
Nagamootoo specified that while he can give assurance that the issue will be reconsidered for the 2018 budget, he could not make a unilateral decision outside of Cabinet for the VAT to be rescinded as was called for by those in attendance.
Among those who expressed strong views on the matter were Dr. Brian O’Toole of Nations University, educator Dr. Melissa Ifill and Mr. Christopher Ram, Attorney-at-law and Chartered Accountant.
Nagamootoo further explained the measure to implement VAT on private education tuition was not introduced in any way to specifically place a burden on parents and students, but that with the reduction of the VAT rate from 16% to 14%, it resulted in a reduction of some $10B in revenue and that the government had to examine ways in which to make up for this shortfall.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the VAT on private education tuition is an unpopular tax which has been criticized. As a caring government, the statesman said that the Government was duty bound to listen and review the matter.
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