May 11, 2017 News
As a response to concerns that were raised with members of the People’s Progressive Party Civic, regarding the imposition of 14 per cent Value Added Tax on private tuition, the party had moved a motion in the National Assembly
to have the issue debated.
This motion was brought by PPP/C MP and former Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand. She is of the belief that if the government of Guyana believes it is doing the right thing with imposing the tax, then its parliamentarians should not be running from a debate on the issue.
According to Manickchand, the disinterest by the government to have the issue debated in parliament is aided by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Barton Scotland. Manickchand was informed via a letter from the Speaker that the motion could have been discussed at the 64th sitting of the National Assembly.
“So what we had was, the Speaker looked at the motion, and corrected it, in my view unlawfully or without jurisdiction to do so. He did not communicate to me, the mover of the motion, anything in writing or otherwise that they were going to make corrections; made those corrections, placed the matter on the order paper and sent out notices to us and because I was terrified, I did not agree with the corrections or the amendments.”
Manickchand said that not wanting to raise any objections to throw the motion off, her party did not react to the amendments. She said on Friday last she received a letter from the Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, informing her that the Speaker was killing the motion.
“A most untimely death because he suddenly changed his mind and decided that the motion had breached some rule or the other. This is another attempt to shut down debate on a very topical issue. This is the government bullying the people of Guyana. If you believe that your policy of imposing VAT on parents and students and families is a sound one then come here (parliament) and debate it.”
She added that representatives of private schools and parents had applied to conduct a protest outside of parliament but were denied permission. The former Minister said that parents have been very vocal in their objections to the imposition on them and their children both as it relates to services and goods.
“That is, they (parents) are finding it difficult to purchase basic things which their children need for school as well as to pay school fees. There have been weekly protests, sometimes bi-weekly protests against the government to raise awareness on the issue.”
She said that there is a petition which was sent to government containing 14,000 signatories. Further, three letters have been sent to PPP/C parliamentarians pleading for the imposition to be reversed or at least make an effort to have the issue debated in the National Assembly.
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