Suriname teachers protest government’s unwillingness to reconsider tax
PARAMARIBO, Suriname (CMC) -The Federation of Organization of Teachers in Suriname (FOLS) is urging its members to stay away from their classes for the next two days as a sign of protest over the government’s unwillingness to reconsider the value-added tax, (VAT), particularly for fuel and utilities.
On August 30 last year, the Surinamese parliament passed legislation to remove the turnover tax and introduce a new VAT system. The 10 per cent VAT rate came into effect on January 1 this year.
In September, Suriname Finance and Planning Minister, Stanley Raghoebarsing defended the decision of the government to amend the VAT, saying that mistakes had been made in its implementation.
He told the National Assembly that the tax base of the products should have been 60 per cent instead of the current 38 per cent. Raghoebarsing told legislators that the Central Bank of Suriname has calculated that the introduction of 10 per cent VAT raises inflation by 1.1 per cent and that an inflation rate of 40 per cent is expected for this year.
FOLS said in a statement that the VAT will increase all aspects of family life.
The FOLS serves as the umbrella organisation for several teacher organisers, including the Catholic Teachers’ Union (KOB), the Christian Teachers’ Union Brotherhood (COB), the Surinamese Public Teachers’ Union (SOB), the Islamic Teachers’ Union (IOB), and the Association of Teachers in Technical Education (BLTO).
“Member associations affiliated with the FOLS are absolutely not responsible for members who do not adhere to the action motto of staying at home,” the union said.
On Wednesday, several teachers responded to a call by the various unions and were joined by members of the unions representing police, customs, hospitals, education, public works and defence.
The workers had gathered to further discuss the increased VAT resulting in a street protest.
But the unions say the full action will begin on Thursday when members are expected to participate in activities at Independence Square.