Members of the National Association of Proprietors for Private Schools (NAPPS) in Kwara State on Thursday staged a peaceful protest over what they described as exorbitant and multiple taxations by the state Internal Revenue Service (KWIRS)
The group, which has about 3,000 members, marched to the Ministry of Education, Ilorin, to register their grievance with a view to get a favourable response and review from the appropriate quarters.
The people, led by the NAPPS state president, Dr Temitope Ajibola, rejected recent charges, levies and taxes on private school owners and businesses in the state by the KWIRS, describing it as exploitation.
The NAPPS, who said that the levies charged by the KWIRS would not be allowed, however, gave the ministry of Education 72 hours ultimatum to resolve the issue with KWIRS, adding that, “WAEC registration will close tomorrow and KWIRS tax will adversely affect WAEC registration of private school students.
“The stringent taxes would affect registration of pupils for WAEC exams as school owners would find it hard to meet up with the deadline to upload WAEC CASS which closes in 48 hours because the KWIRS refused to issue clearance except on payment. This would not be allowed. We can’t meet up. That’s why we’re protesting. We are appealing to KWIRS not to pitch us against the state government”, he said.
The school proprietors and proprietresses said that they were levied on over 11 different charges and taxes, appealing to the state government to prevail on KWIRS to only maintain the levy on renewal fee.
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He said that some of the recent charges and taxes include land charges, personal income tax, signage and advertisement fees, renewal fees on business premises, fire prevention/inspection fees, fees on school health safety permits, pest control and fumigation certificate fees, among others.
Dr Ajibola urged the state revenue agency to see them as partners in progress, considering the fact that they are employers of labour, saying that multiple taxations could lead to the closure of many private schools in the state.
“In the past, the state governor, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, has supported us. Efforts to reach him and KWIRS had been proved abortive. We have no issue with the governor because he’s an able and capable governor”, he said.
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The group, which asked for an urgent response from government on their appeal, said that the aggrieved parents with their students may storm the ministry on another protest on Monday if no favourable response was received in 72 hours.
“Several schools are yet to be cleared for WAEC registration and this may affect WAEC registration this year. We’re employers of labour to be commended and not to be condemned. We employ 1000s of teachers which the government have no capacity to cater for. We run our schools with loans and we’re not rich people. Many of us are running at a loss. We are in need of government assistance. We are even having it hard to pay teachers. Kwara state is a civil service economy. Many parents pay after salary payment”, he said.
Addressing the school owners, the Director of Quality Assurance Bureau, Kwara State ministry of Education, Mrs Ade Aboyeji, commended the people for their peaceful and mature conduct.
She also promised to get their areas of grievance known to the appropriate quarters.
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“We have always worked together. We understand your situation”, she said.