A young office assistant within a private accounting firm has only one dream. He wants to ensure that his young daughter can have a good education so that she can do better than he has done in life.
He wants the best for her, so his dream is to be able to send her to a good school. This year he had identified one of the private nursery schools. He had saved the year’s tuition for her. It had involved him making some sacrifices and having to beg the boss for overtime work.
His efforts paid off. He accumulated the money ready to enroll her this term when she was due to start nursery school.
He did not cater for the education tax which was imposed this year. The tax, though only 14% pushed the cost of sending his daughter to a private school out of his reach. His dreams were shattered. It lay in ruins simply because to pay that would have meant not providing lunch for his daughter.
It was a humiliation he did not want to bear and so he went into the Ministry of Education and registered his daughter for a public school. His dream of sending his little girl to a private school simply evaporated because of the tax on education.
The government has refused, so far to budge from removing the tax. They have allowed pride to prevent them from doing what is right. They have killed a lot of parents dreams’ because of the tuition tax and those dreams are from the poor because the rich people are not bothered by VAT on tuition.
They will pay it. But a poor parent, trying to make ends meet to have that joy of being able to do something special for their child, will have their hopes shattered.
This is cruelty of pride in politics. The government was too proud to revoke the tax. They were not going to lose votes so they were not bothered. To them keeping the tax on education was not big deal. To the poor people who could not send their children to private school, it was a big deal.
The Minister of Finance has announced that there will be no new taxes in the 2018 Budget. He has also announced that the education tax is likely to be reviewed.
N0 new taxes in the 2018 Budget. The government is hoping that this announcement will be like music to the ears of Guyanese.
But with the spate of increases in items now subject to VAT, with the increases in licenses and fees over the past 2 years, including for motor vehicles, the recent no taxes announcement is more likely to be met with a sigh of relief rather than exultation.
A review of the education tax is not going to make any difference to that father who could not send his little girl to school this year because he could not find the extra money to pay the VAT. The school year has started. The term has begun.
The place which that child would have had in the school is gone. Even if there is place, the work has started and the child will not be able to manage by joining in the second term.
Why if the government is earning over one billion dollars in withholding tax, was it necessary to tax education to raise a miserly $300M? Why was this education tax so necessary when $80M is said to have been doled out to send a contingent to Carifesta in Barbados.
The government has problems spending the money it has to spend. It will go on a spending spree come December to ensure that allocations to Ministries are not returned to the treasury. Yet, it has pressurized the citizenry with this obnoxious tax on education.
The government may feel that it is doing something good by reviewing the education tax. But good for whom? That review is going to come too late for that father who cannot send his daughter to private nursery school.
Why could the review not be done before August so that at least poor parents would have had a chance at enrolling their children for the September term?
The government is cruel by the manner in which it has handled this tax. It does not deserve a word of praise for its announcement about no new taxes in 2018.
By the way, was it not the same tune that the PPPC Budgets from 2005 onwards kept repeating? No new taxes! No new taxes! Guess who was the person crunching the numbers of those PPPC Budgets?
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