Education Minister keen to hear views on VAT on private tuition

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, April 06, 2017

Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine says that the government is open to suggestions on alternatives to the 14 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private tuition.

The Texila American University, at Providence, East Bank Demerara.

The Education Minister will be part of a government team which will meet with parents and operators of private schools tomorrow on the issue. The meeting is scheduled for 11:00 hours  at the National Cultural Centre.

Speaking with the media on the site tour of the new Texila American University Campus at Providence, East Bank Demerara, Minister Roopnaraine said, “I am going tomorrow to listen and to find solutions. We (the ministerial team) have to sit with them (the parents and private school operators) and then we have to sit with the colleagues on the cabinet to see what (is the way forward),” the Minister said.

The minister explained that the two-sides would need to find creative ways to overcome the issue. He noted that the VAT on private tuition was “really thought through by the Ministry of Finance. “It has come to us as a proposal and they (the Ministry of Finance) have a lot of financial reasons why they are bringing this,” he said

The Minister explained that he has been meeting with parents and teachers and seeking to explain the implementation of the measure, but “it has not gone down very well, so we have to address it,” the Minister said.

Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine chatting with some students of the Texila University

Minister Roopnaraine said that hearing collectively from all of the parents, teachers and operators of private schools which will be affected, on how the issue could be creatively resolved, is crucial to making a decision on the way forward.

He explained that whatever decision is arrived at, would need to have the buy-in of Cabinet. “Once I can do that, I think I can approach Cabinet with more thought out and agreed on position, but it would go before cabinet,” the minister said.

The new tax requirement on private tuition came into effect following the passage of the 2017 national budget and the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017 which amended the Value Added Tax Act, Chapter 81:05.

The imposition of the 14 percent VAT however, met with outcry from members of the public who felt that the tax requirement would impact heavily on the children and youth attending private schools.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, had explained that the imposition of the VAT on tuition falls on the educational institutions and not the parents and students.

The Finance Minister had noted that prior to the tax implementation, educational materials were zero-rated, meaning that private school

Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine tours the Texila American University, at Providence, East Bank Demerara.

providers had to claim refunds of VAT imposed on a wide range of school supplies.

As of 2017, all of these items were moved to the Exempt Schedule, which means that no VAT is charged and none has to be refunded.

The Minister further noted that of the  54 private educational institutions registered with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), only 57 per cent have registered with the GRA and only 10 percent are recognised by the Ministry of Education and only a few  were tax compliant.

Meanwhile, on the topic of the Textila University new campus, Minister Roopnaraine said, “It is a wonderful environment to train our doctors and like I say, the biggest challenge for us after all of this, is to ensure that enough of them stay in Guyana. But I am very excited by what I am seeing.”

The US$20M campus serves around 1,500 students and houses modern laboratories, a research centre, library, information technology centre, student lounges, an international cafeteria among other amenities.

 

By: Macalia Santos

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