Protestors challenge President to public debate

first_imgVAT on educationAlthough Government had defended the tax on private education, protesters are challenging officials to a one-on-one public debate on the issue, which has exploded into a grave national concern.“Mr President Granger, I have a challenge for you today. I am inviting you to come out of  your office, join us here on a Wednesday and have a public discourse with us right here outside of your Office. Let’s discuss this VAT on education. Let’s see what’s really stopping you from removing the VAT on education for us,” declared a student, Jonathan Yearwood,  who has stood in almost every picketing line outside the various Government entities calling for the removal of the 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education.Government has maintained that this tax will remain but promised to review the measure for the 2018 National Budget.But protestors are adamant in continuing their attempts to express displeasure against the policy, which has been described as backward.“(Ministers) have said that they’ve made millions of dollars from taxes throughout (last) year. I am saying it can be suspended and then revoked next year,” Yearwood stated.Finance Minister Winston Jordan had estimated that Government earned some $350 million annually from the tax.A group of protestors outside the Ministry of the Presidency on WednesdayAdditionally, the student expressed disappointment with the withdrawing of the motion for the education tax to be repealed by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland.The tabling of the motion would have sparked a debate at the highest decision-making forum in the country on the education tax.It was expected that the Alliance For Change (AFC) arm of the Government would have supported the motion in light of its public support of the movement against the tax.Stakeholders continue to argue that the education tax will hurt economic development, force persons out of the private education system and put pressure on an already burdened public sector.The group of protestors outside the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday was relatively small, but they affirmed that they represent hundreds of individuals who are affected by the policy.They reminded that  more than 15,000 persons had signed the petition against the tax which was submitted to Government.Despite the small turnout, protestors said they would continue to stage picketing exercises every Wednesday outside the President’s office.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had explained that Government could afford to remove the education tax without significantly harming its revenue framework by slashing spending in unnecessary areas in order to maintain its desired revenue stream.last_img read more