VAT on private education… as President says persons need to be more “reasonable”Distraught stakeholders have threatened to continue their resistance against Government, in various forms, until the 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private education is revoked.One of the protests against VAT on private educationDetermined and united, stakeholders have rejected Government’s pronounced refusal to repeal the tax it imposed on private education.After sitting for nearly three hours with high hopes of Government removing this massive impediment to education, their optimism was crushed when Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo declared that the onerous tax will remain for 2017.Parents, students and educators rose in disgust and disappointment, some hurling adverse remarks towards Government representatives for pretending to care about their concerns and the future of the country.Many stakeholders also criticised the Government for wasting their time by holding a window-dressing exercise.Educator and Director of the Nations University, Dr Brian O’Toole, indicated to Guyana Times on Saturday that the Government only made the situation worse with a smokescreen event.“He (Prime Minister) could have announced that (no removal of VAT before 2017) before, then people could have decided if it was worth their while to spend half their day on an exercise that had very little value,” Dr O’Toole reasoned.Govt failedMoreover, the educator lamented that Government failed in its rebuttal to address the concerns of the stakeholders.“The Prime Minister appeared to deliver a prepared speech. If it wasn’t a prepared speech, it certainly failed to respond to not one of the points mentioned,” he stated.Dr O’Toole said it was also tragic that the Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine failed to share his views on the concerns raised by students, parents and other concerned citizens during the forum.Despite Government’s pronouncement, the educator made it clear that the fight will not end until the results are favourable.“I guess the hope for everyone in Government is if you prolong something long enough, people will get tired of it and they will give up but I know the key players in this won’t give up,” he pledged.2018 budgetNagamootoo announced that Cabinet will review the matter however he posited that changes cannot be made this year.Nagamootoo specified that while he can give clear assurance that the issue will be reconsidered for the 2018 budget, he could not make a unilateral decision outside of Cabinet for the VAT to be rescinded.President David Granger, during this week’s ‘The Public Interest’, made pellucid his intention to keep VAT on private education for this year.He said the tax can be reviewed for the next budget but in the meantime, the President said persons need to be more patient, tolerant and reasonable.Granger explained that in fulfilling a campaign promise, his Administration reduced VAT by two per cent and therefore, it had to find ways to generate revenues which would be lost from the reduction.ResistanceMeanwhile, according to a student pursuing his MBA at a private university, it appears as if the Government has no intention of actually listening to the concerns of the people and making decisions to their benefit.“As a student who is trying to further my education and make a meaningful contribution to my country so that we can develop, this has now become practically impossible for me with this Administration placing VAT on education,” the students vented.He expressed that the “consultations” on VAT on private education was “nothing more than a farce.”Another student, who gave his only name as Satesh, said the forum had very little value as the Ministers did not address the concerns of the stakeholders nor did they give a commitment to ensure pursuing an education becomes less burdensome.“My question to Government is, UG lost its accreditation for medical studies yet they are taxing private institutions that provide this service. Why? The Government cannot establish an aeronautical engineering school but taxing the only private school which does in Guyana. Why? The Government is not in any way assisting the poor citizens of this country because they are giving Ministers scholarships but not poor students,” Satesh explained.Another student who is studying privately said she does not understand why the Government would host such an event if it had all intentions of ignoring the concerns of those being affected by the VAT.“Those presentations were factual. You heard the plight of so many students, how they feel starved, how their disposable incomes have diminished and how some are forced to drop out. How can you listen to that and still declare that you are unable to make changes this year? The Government can easily repeal this tax, if they care about the future of this country. But sadly, judging from their actions, it appears as if they do not,” the student related.