|Honey bee as GRA's logo|
|Acting Head of GRA - Y. Darboe|
Hon. Halifa Sallah lamented about the "Education Tax" and asked the question about the utilization of the proceeds when prospective teachers found themselves unable to gain entry into Gambia College to be trained because they lack the D7,000 required to be admitted.
His intervention was during debate of the State Opening of the National Assembly speech by President Barrow.
On 28th December, 2014, we raised the "Education Tax" issue and asked similar questions about its origins, rationale and utilization. It is an issue that must be addressed in a systematic manner as part of the national debate in the development of our education sector. We have the pleasure of republishing the blog post. We've added the year "2015" to the title. The post was written a few days before the tax was to take effect.
The business community found a present it did not wish for under their Christmas tree from Yaya Jammeh - a new education tax of D30,000 annually - as part of the regime's revenue proposal for 2015. Interestingly, this tax measure was not in the Finance Minister's Budget Speech.
The annual levy is for every business establishment to pay.
It is so sudden a measure, even of a tax of this magnitude, that notices started going out a day after Christmas - a present the business community least expected after the Finance Minister's Budget Speech which made no mention of an education tax.
When the question was posed as to why the education tax was not mentioned in the Finance Minister's Budget Speech which he delivered before the National Assembly last week, the response was this is a regime that practices what he termed "street administration." When I ask him to elaborate he said "these GRA officials meet at 'Attaya Vous' and what ever comes to their head, they agree to propose to Jammeh who, in turn, give directives for implementation."
A similar tax existed a few years ago which was dropped for reasons only known to the regime. It is now being quietly reinstated without a fanfare and not being featured in the Minister's Budget Speech. It is no coincidence that Jammeh promised "free education by 2020" when he had already promised Gambians that Grade 1 - Grade 12 will be free in 2014. It was as recently as last September that the Education Minister reiterated the promise.
Gambian parents have been posing questions to Headmasters about the "free education" claim by the regime because they still pay upward of D 1,400 in book bills and other charges. It is perhaps as a result of Gambians beginning to see through the falsehoods that the regime is trying to recalibrate by shifting the date of free education to 2020 and to levy an education tax that was abandoned.
To reinstate the education tax without public debate and scrutiny and being completely omitted from the Minister's Budget Speech is one more indication of the type of a regime we are dealing with. It is an opaque and sinister regime that is being managed by a group of functional illiterates who'd rather serve a tyrant and a criminal than to serve and protect the interest of the Gambian people.