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11 September, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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Students not to pay VAT ‘this year’

Pvt varsities slam VAT on edn, students to continue agitation
Students not to pay VAT ‘this year’

In the wake of students’ agitation, finance minister AMA Muhith yesterday said private university students do not need to pay additional VAT on their tuition fees this year. “What I think is… this time nobody is going to be charged,” he said while responding to queries from reporters after an award ceremony jointly organised by DHL and The Daily Star at a city hotel. Muhith also said the university authorities have agreed to pay the VAT.
Asked whether the VAT is going to be imposed on students in the future, Muhith said it will be considered in the coming days. Earlier, the Association of Non-Government Universities of Bangladesh (ANUB) has questioned the rationality of the decision of
the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to impose value-added tax (VAT) on private universities and has urged the government to reconsider it. “According to the definition of VAT, it is imposed on consumers who partake of services. We are not consumers. Rather, it is the students who avail of the service, or education, from the universities. So how can VAT be imposed on the varsities?” asked ANUB president Sheikh Kabir Hossain.
“The NBR said private universities would pay the VAT, not the students. But the private universities are run by trustee boards. There is no law that allows VAT to be taken from trustee boards,” Hossain said. “The NBR should not have taken the decision without properly thinking it through. They will have to make it clear,” he told media-persons after a meeting with the owners of different private universities at Gulshan Club in the capital yesterday.
He further said they would approach the government to resolve the issue. “We will sit with the Prime Minister, finance minister and education minister and ask them to reconsider the decision,” he added.
The ANUB president also sought to placate students agitating over the issue. “As of now, university authorities will have to pay VAT. This has nothing to do with the students. We ask them to stay calm. If the students have anything to say, they can meet with us,” he said.
Hossain said after the budget announcement that VAT would have to be paid on education, students organised their programmes peacefully. “But on Wednesday, police clashed with the students, which is very unfortunate. This might have stirred their aggression,” he added.
He also expressed regret over the inconvenience caused to common people by the students’ movement. Also, yesterday, the students announced a fresh programme, including sit-in demonstrations in front of their respective campuses for three days starting from today, to demand the withdrawal of 7.5 per cent VAT on education.
A students’ platform, ‘No VAT on Education’, announced the programme at a press conference at Stamford University in the capital.
The agitating students, however, did not make it clear whether they would obstruct the roads to press for their demand. Instead, they said everything would depend on the situation during the programmes.
Reiterating their demand to lift VAT on education, they said they would continue with their strike by boycotting classes and exams at the private universities and private medical and engineering colleges across the country.
Moshiur Rahman, a spokesperson for No Vat on Education, said they have thought about the sufferings of the people and would consider the matter. “We don’t want people to suffer for our movement. But everything would depend on the situation,” he added.
Ahsan Ahmed Anik, an organiser of the platform, said, “We have called a general strike to boycott classes and exams, and will organise sit-in programmes in front of the respective campuses.”
When asked where they would obstruct the roads, as they did on Thursday, he said, “We don’t want to obstruct roads. We would carry out the programme in such a way that people’s sufferings remain low.”
“The government should immediately withdraw the VAT on education, which is our fundamental right,” he added.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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