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Finance Minister Muhith rules out rollback of VAT imposed on private universities

54The 7.5 percent VAT imposed on the private universities will not be reduced, the finance minister has announced.

Students could agitate as much as they like, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said on Friday, adding, “The VAT won’t be reduced in any way.”

“I don’t support their movement. They can pay Tk 50,000, Tk 30,000 as tuition fees; why won’t they pay only 7.5 percent VAT?” he asked while speaking with journalists after a programme in Sylhet.

The government in the 2015-16 fiscal’s budget approved the VAT on tuition fees for higher education in all private universities, and medical and engineering colleges.

On July 4, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) issued an order imposing the VAT.

Students of private universities have been protesting against the decision since then.

Upon on a petition filed by a teacher and two students of Daffodil University, the High Court also issued a ruling in this regard on Aug 9.

It asked the secretaries to the finance and education ministries, chairmen of the University Grants Commission and the NBR why the decision to impose the 7.5 percent VAT would not be declared illegal.

The chairmen of trustee boards and vice-chancellors of private universities at a meeting on Thursday also urged Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid to withdraw the VAT.

Nahid said he would discuss the issue with the prime minister and finance minister.

Asked to comment on the country’s law and order situation, Finance Minister Muhith on Friday claimed it was ‘stable’ despite ‘some incidents of murder’ recently.

“Apart from some murders, the (law and order) situation is good,” he said.

The finance minister’s comment came at a time when there is an outcry across Bangladesh after suspected religious fanatics brutally murdered four writers and bloggers in the past seven months.

A shooting in Dhaka’s Badda on Thursday night also left three people killed.