Guyana Government Reverses VAT on Private Education After Criticism

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said the VAT would be removed effective January 1 next year.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday November 29, 2017 – Following severe criticism and protests, the Guyana government is removing the 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on private educational institutions which it controversially imposed in the last Budget.

In presenting the 2018 Budget on Monday, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said the VAT would be removed effective January 1 next year, “in view of the representations made”.

The tax requirement on private tuition came into effect following the passage of the 2017 national budget and the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2017, and was introduced as part of efforts to widen the tax base.

Private school administrators and parents vehemently protested the move which saw fees increase.

The decision to reverse the tax, which will see the Guyana Revenue Authority suffering potential revenue loss valued some GUY$342 million (US$1.6 million), has been welcomed by Director of the Business School, James Bovell, who said it was very good news for the education sector.

“I felt that it was a bit misguided in the first place and I want to say that it is very fitting and wise for the government to remove it at this time,” he said.

Other incentives announced in the Budget which are geared at improving the delivery of education countrywide included the training of over 330 teachers; the construction of several schools; provision of a GUY$2.4 billion (US$11.5 million) subvention to the University of Guyana; and the continuation of digital classroom programmes.

The VAT repeal was one of several measures announced in the Budget.

Delinquent corporate and individual taxpayers have been granted a tax amnesty, which will be in effect from January 1 to September 30 next year.

Taxpayers who file and pay all principal taxes on or before June 30, 2018 will have all interest and penalties waived, while those who file and pay all principal taxes between July 1 and September 30 will have half of interest and penalties waived.

Jordan also announced that old age pension will be increased yet again, from the start of next year.

When the David Granger took office in May 2015, the pension stood at GUY$13,125 (US$63.10). From January 1, 2018 it will be GUY$19,500 (US$93.75), following a fourth increase.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the 2018 Budget represents an important step in the development of the country, noting that the measures place Guyana further along the path to the “good life” for all.

“There are no new taxes in this budget; in fact there are benefits for so many categories of persons that they will only see good in this budget,” he noted.

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