Gov’t to hold forum on private education VAT

The government says it is prepared to engage stakeholders in a “frank and open” discussion regarding the 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private tuition.

A press statement from the Ministry of the Presidency explained that as a result of a decision made by Cabinet yesterday, a team of Government Ministers will be meeting with parents and operators of private schools on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 11:00h at the National Cultural Centre (NCC).

Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine is quoted in the release as saying that government is “prepared to hear what the concerns are and see how best [they] can address them”.

Private education became subject to VAT on February 1, following the removal of zero-rated items as a measure of the 2017 national budget. Minister of Finance Winston Jordan later explained that only private schools that earn more than $15 million a year and are registered for VAT will be expected to charge the tax, which is not being applied to education or educational supplies, but to tuition fees payable to private schools.

Since its implementation there has been a public outcry against the measure including two public protests organized by The Guyana Private Schools United.

The Guyana Private Schools United, made up of ten local private educational institutions, was formed recently so stakeholders could collectively take a stand against the government’s decision to implement a tax on private tuition fees.

The group first protested in front of the Ministry of Finance, and before holding a much larger protest in front of the Ministry of Education on Brickdam.

At their last protest, representatives of the group told Stabroek News that they had sent correspondence to the ministries of Education and Finance, as well as to the President and Prime Minister’s offices to request a meeting.

Additionally an online petition started by the Sixth Form students of the School of the Nations’ Sixth Form College for the removal of the provision, which received in excess of 14,000 signatures, was distributed to various government ministries in February.

Stabroek News reached out to Director of the School of Nations Brian O’Toole and Stacey French representative of Mae’s School, both of whom have been active in protesting this measure, for a comment on the government’s decision to hold a public meeting. Stabroek News was unable to reach French and O’Toole declined to comment on the decision.

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