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Bhopal: Exempted, not really; cost of education goes up

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Bhopal: The government would like us to believe that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has not affected the education sector – for the simple reason that it is not applicable to it. But the truth is that the GST has and will make imparting of and acquiring education costlier. And this how it will do in three ways.

Firstly, the ‘services’ offered by schools, colleges and universities – other than academic – will now be taxed at 18 per cent, against the 15 per cent earlier. This will mean that the plate of yummy noodles you used to savour at your school or college canteen in the company of your friends will now cost you more. And so will the journey to and from your home, if you make it by the school or college bus. Secondly, the new tax regime will indirectly affect the educational institutions because of the increase in the cost of goods consumed and services availed by them. Thirdly, the students going coaching centres will have to shell out more as the services provided by these institutes have not been exempted from GST, and in all likelihood they will pass on the burden to the students.

“After the implementation of the GST, the service tax on coaching centres has been increased from 15 per cent to 18 per cent. We haven’t charged anything extra from the students who had paid their fees before the implementation of the GST. But from the next session, we will hike the fees,” said Abhishek Pandey, Centre Head of FITJEE, Bhopal adding “the fee structure depends on the course opted for by the students. The fee for one-year course starts from Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000.”

“GST is not applicable to tuition fees but the tax on printing, advertising etc. has increased as per the different tax slabs. And that will make things costlier for us,” said Jagdish Rathi, PRO of NRI Group of Institutions.

“There is no GST on tuition fee but it may affect the education sector indirectly because the cost of maintaining the infrastructure will rise and the burden on school managements will increase,” said Shailesh Zope, principal of Anand Vihar School.

Similarly, Rajesh Kumar Sharma, principal of Bal Bhawan said “Although the cost of smart boards, copies and other inputs have increased after the implementation of GST. We haven’t yet hiked tuition fees. We have decided to bear the burden ourselves”

“I wanted to enrol for M.Phil. at Makhanlal Chaturvedi University. When I logged on to MP Online portal to pay the fees, I was shocked to find that I was asked to pay 2.88 per cent extra on account of GST”, said Abhinav Verma, a research scholar, who also works with a newspaper.

“The service tax has increased after the implementation of GST. But people are not ready to accept the fact and they start arguing with us. What have we to do with it?” Monu, an MP Online kiosk operator wanted to know.

“The prices of almost every item have increased. While on one hand the government is talking of promoting education, on the other it has made books, copies, pens, pencils uniforms et al dearer. What exactly government wants to do?” Sarita Joshi, a homemaker queried.

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