Skip to content

Don’t Tax The Future

June 11, 2017

English medium schools  have fallen prey to govt’s 15% VAT in the proposed budget.

There is little hope that govt will change its decisions in this matter.

In a post budget press conference Finance Minister M A Muhit made it clear that he would not reconsider his decision and he would go ahead with 15% VAT on English medium schools.

Govt justified its stance by saying that the wealthy of the society send their children to English medium schools. So the schools will not have much trouble to pay the VAT.

But govt perception has some holes. The middle class also send their children to English medium schools.

The urban middle class see these schools as a mean to get world class education. They think the schools recruit the best teachers in Bangladesh.

In the face of spiraling fees, they may not send their kids to English medium schools.

So govt decision will make the English medium schools exclusively for the rich.

I see this VAT on English schools as a punitive tax on the middle class. It will discourage them to avail education at English schools.

Moreover govt decision is directly influencing the choices of individuals.

If a person thinks one’s kid will get the best education in English schools, then the govt should not meddle in that decision.

John Stuart Mill in his “On Liberty” wrote:” The worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of individuals composing it; and a state which postpones the interest of their mental expansion and elevation to a little more of administrative skill, or of that semblance of it which practice gives in details of business; a state which dwarfs its men , in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes — will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly, it has preferred to banish.”

Why does the govt want to dwarf its own citizens?

More and more govt appears to be an obstructionist rather than a pioneer in introducing uniform policies in education.

Rather than VAT, govt should concentrate who should operate theses English medium schools and how  they could do so.

Since most of the problems  faced by these schools stem from these two key areas.

A rent-seeking class eye it as a source of generating steady stream of revenues. The latest move will provide them another opportunity to hike school fees.

On many occasions it has been found that this rent-seeking class has strong ties with political elites.

Industry insiders have also a note of  caution for the govt. Many schools may be out of operation as rising  costs may increase their operational costs manifolds and higher fees may affect attracting  new students.

These schools remain a source of decent jobs for university graduates.

Closure of schools will have adverse impacts on employment. This year govt targets to create more job opportunities. In that light , too, this 15% VAT on English Schools seems to be contradictory to govt objective.

A year ago govt tried to impose VAT on private university fees. We witnessed spontaneous protests from students.

The students held sit-ins and asphyxiated key roads. Their message “No VAT On Education” is literally visible on every car and wall. In the wake of their agitation, govt finally gave in and revoked its decision.

Govt seems pretty receptive to anarchist cry. However it does not heed peaceful and reasonable protest.

Patience of parents of students studying in English medium schools may not run thin unlike the private university students.

But the move will eventually antagonize a section of vote bank.

From itching utility bills to soaring prices of kitchen commodities, govt’s revenue-building policies did not give any comfort to these parents.

This latest VAT row will further complicate the matter squeezing almost their empty pockets.

If govt is really want to create a knowledge based society then how this extra burden on schools will help it to achieve that goal.

Rather it can trim the defense purchase. What is the point of increasing the number of wage employees in fatigues that fully depend on govt in bearing expenses?

There is no rush to go for defense shopping right now since we have good relations with all our neighbors and there is no big international crisis looming over.

It is a laudable move from the government to introduce English as a medium to answer the questions of Bangladesh Civil Service examinations.

It did that so that English medium school students could sit for public exams.

For the middle class who could barely afford school fees of these schools, having their children a quality education is a dream.

And govt has no right to spoil that dream.

Govt should trash the idea of imposing 15% VAT on schools. Instead it should focus on ways that help molding uniform education policy.


From → Analysis

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: