Govt withdraws Vat from Varsity tuition fees – students end unrest

Govt withdraws Vat from Varsity tuition fees – students end unrest

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In the face of a strong movement, the government on Monday withdrew the 7.5 percent VAT from the tuition fees of private university students, bringing an end to their widespread street protests that caused immense sufferings to city commuters.
Like other days over the week, private university students took to the streets blocking different roads in many city areas, including Dhanmondi, Rampura, Farmgate, Science Laboratory, Dhanmondi 27, Panthapath intersection and Uttara, since morning against the imposition of VAT, crumbling again the rush hour traffic.But the movement started slackening after 11am as different TV channels ran scrolls that the weekly Cabinet meeting decided to withdraw the VAT on private university student’s tuition fees.
Though there had been no official announcement over the VAT withdrawal decision, the students who had been on the movement since Wednesday burst with joy amid the media news and withdrew their protest programme in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country by putting off their road blockades around 12:20pm.
The demonstrating students, including those of East West University, brought out jubilant processions and returned to their campuses chanting various slogans.
Finally, the Finance Ministry issued a handout around 3:20pm saying, “The government has decided to withdraw the 7.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) slapped on private universities and medical and engineering colleges in 2015-16 fiscal year.”
The official release further said the government does not want any kind of obstruction to education sector and any trouble in public life. Considering this, the government has decided to withdraw the VAT on the private universities, and medical and engineering colleges.
The government expects that the students and teachers will stop their movement and go back to their educational institutions, and will not create any hindrance to the country’s march towards development, the release added.
Meanwhile, at least 30 students of different private universities were injured in an attack on Airport Road at Kakoli intersection on Sunday morning allegedly by some students of Titumir Govt. College during their demonstrations against the imposition VAT on their tuition fees.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, in his budget speech for fiscal 2015-16, proposed 10 percent VAT on private education, which includes English medium schools and private engineering and medical colleges. The budget was passed imposing 7.5 percent VAT in stead of 10 percent.
Later, on July 4, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) issued a notification imposing 7.5 percent VAT on the tuition fees of private universities and medical and engineering colleges.
The private university students had been staging sporadic demonstrations against the decision, but it spread like wildfire after police attacked a demonstration of East West students on Wednesday last in the city’s Rampura area.
Following the incident, the students of different private universities started peacefully taking to the streets from Thursday blocking roads at different areas of the city halting traffic and cause sufferings of people.
In the face of the movement, the government on Thursday “clarified” that the VAT was to be paid by respective universities and “not by the students, but the students continued their movement for withdrawal of the VAT ditching the explanation.
Protests spread in other parts of the country, including Rajshahi, Chittagong and Sylhet, as the private university students there staged demonstrations and blockaded roads for the last four days demanding withdrawal of the VAT.
Amid the strong anti-VAT movement, Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday dropped a hint that the government might revise the VAT decision, saying they were ‘not rigid’ about it as they had reviewed many decisions in the past six years.- UNB

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