Muhith hints at rollback of VAT on tuition fees amid continuous protests by students

REF: Finance Minister AMA Muhith has hinted that the government may back down on VAT, saying it was ‘not rigid’ about the decision as protests by students of private universities continue.

 

“We have not taken a rigid position on complications that have arisen at the private universities over the imposed VAT… We have reviewed many issues in the past six years,” he said on Sunday.

“We’ll reach an honourable solution to these complications very soon,” he added.

The minister was speaking with journalists at the Secretariat in the afternoon while traffic snarls in the streets triggered by student agitations that started last week caused much suffering to the commuters across Dhaka.

Muhith was accompanied by Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at the time.

Ahmed also said, “This is an important issue. It’ll be resolved very soon.”

The students have been protesting since the 2015-16 fiscal’s budget imposed the 7.5 percent value added tax (VAT) on tuition fees of the private universities, medical and engineering colleges.

After last Wednesday’s clash between East West University students and police during demonstrations at Rampura, the protests intensified on Thursday as students of several private universities blocked key roads, crippling the capital.

Their protests on Sunday also triggered severe traffic gridlocks in Dhaka’s streets, causing huge troubles for commuters.

After the agitations started, the government had said the institutions would pay the VAT and it would not be realised from the students.

But the students feared their institutions would eventually force the burden on them by increasing their tuition fees. They announced a three-day strike at all private institutions across Bangladesh and continued their demonstrations.

Amid the protests, the Bangladesh Private University Association, an organisation of the owners, also urged the government to withdraw the imposed VAT.

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