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Government imposes VAT private universities in Bangladesh!

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On this year’s budget, the government slapped 7.5 percent VAT on private universities. The decision drew widespread criticism from among students and guardians. Which resulted in thousands of private university students took to the streets and blocked traffic in the capital and elsewhere yesterday, to press home their demand for lifting the 7.5 percent VAT imposed on their “tuition fees” in the current budget.

The mass protest under the banner of “No Vat on Education” came a day after police opened fire on an anti-VAT protest of East West University students in Rampura. At least 35 people, including numerous students of the university, were wounded in the shooting.

Yesterday, students of several universities, as well as East West, North South, Brac, Independent, State University, United International University (UIU), Stamford and Daffodil, began their demonstration around 10:00am.

Holding banners and placards, they were seen peacefully chanting and writing slogans on the streets such as “No Vat on Education,” “Education is not a product” and “Why firing on students?”

Students of Brac University, American International University of Bangladesh and South East University marched on the streets of Mohakhali and Gulshan while hundreds from North South and Independent universities staged a sit-in on Progoti Sarani at Bashundhara. On the other part, students of Stamford University blockaded Dhanmondis Satmasjid road while Daffodil university students blockaded Mirpur Road in Sukrabad area.

One of the student of Computer Science and Engineering at UIU, said after the police action on East West University students, they communicated with students from different universities on social media overnight and decided on the demonstration programs.

However, In spite of these widespread protests, Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday categorically said the government would not withdraw the value added tax (VAT) imposed on the private universities.”The universities will have to pay it without increasing the tuition fees and it cannot be collected from the students,” he said at a press briefing in Sylhet.

Similarly, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) said it is the private university authorities, not the students, who would pay the VAT.

“The VAT has been imposed not to be collected from the students. The VAT is included within the existing tuition fees. The responsibility of paying the VAT is solely on the university authorities, never on the students,” the NBR said in a press release yesterday.

It, however, did not clarify why the government made a fresh announcement of the VAT imposition if its already included in the tuition fees.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday regretted his comment on the agitating teachers of public universities. He said the way his comment was printed in media did not reflect the meaning he had intended.

Sheikh Kabir Hossain, president of Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB), said the NBRs explanation was “confusing and incorrect”. He stated that, “We are not business organizations. The private universities are non-profit bodies and run by trustee boards. We do not get any subsidy or whatsoever from the government. So why should we pay the VAT?”

According to him, all expenses including teachers salaries are being paid from the students fees and if the government imposes any VAT, the burden will automatically fall on the students shoulders.

Author: Ishan Hasnat – Bangladesh

Source foto:  theindependentbd

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