VAT imposition may hit education sector badly
Karachi, May 26: With the beginning of the new academic year from April, parents of children studying at private schools are already paying from Rs10 to Rs50 more on a textbook, depending on the syllabus. But they fear that with the imposition of value-added tax (VAT) in the new budget on the education sector, prices of education-related items will go skyrocketing.
Already uncomfortable with the surging inflation rate, parents now feel really perturbed over reports of VAT imposition on the education sector. Even the stakeholders in the education sector oppose the government's move to levy VAT. In case of levy of a new tax, the stakeholders may not feel the pinch and ultimately parents will have to swallow the bitter pill of paying extra.
Publishers say the prices of books published by the Sindh Textbook Board have also risen by Rs1.5 per book for class ninth and tenth and 25 to 45 paisas per book from class one to eight in the last one year.
Like every year, paper makers enhance the rate of paper in the peak season in January for the new session and later they reduce the price in April after the book buying spree fades.
Syed Zafarul Hassan of Qamar Kitab Ghar at Urdu Bazar said textbooks had become costlier by at least 20 per cent followed by a 25 per cent increase in the prices of notebooks and registers.
The condition of school-owners binding parents to purchase complete course either from the outlet on the school premises or from particular shops had reduced the rush in Urdu Bazaar, he said.
A school-owner in a Landhi locality said that a 200-page notebook now costs Rs32 to Rs35 as compared to the earlier Rs25-28. A 200-page register now sells at Rs60-65 as against the earlier price of Rs45-50. According to him, most publishers had raised the prices of books by three to 15 per cent.
A shopkeeper in Hyderi, North Nazimabad, said imported school bag prices had gone up by at least Rs100 apiece due to the devaluation of the rupee against the dollar.
However, there was some stability in the prices of stationery items as claimed by manufacturers. Parents also bear an increase in the monthly fees and annual charges by private schools, uniform and shoe prices, school van charges, etc.
Meanwhile, a branded shoe store operator said the company had not raised any price in the last one year, but hinted that it might do so in the coming months.
The chairman of the Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers' Association, Aziz Khalid, and former chairman Khawer Iftikhar linked the price hike in books to an increase in paper prices by Rs7 to Rs10 per kilogram by local paper mills.
They said paper millers claimed that the rise in paper prices was caused by increasing prices of raw materials followed by gas, electricity and transport charges.
Last year, the prices of textbooks rose by 15 to 40 per cent while books of the Sindh Textbook Board went up by 15-20 per cent after an increase in printing paper prices.
Around 80-90 per cent of textbook buying has already been completed after the start of the new academic year in April, and the remaining buying is in the process as the new session in many English-medium schools (the Cambridge system, O and A levels) would get under way in August.
The publishers, who start printing books in December/January every year, said the increase in paper prices was not the sole factor behind the book price hike as the rise in utility charges, labour cost, printing and ink rates had a cumulative impact on book prices.
Blaming the poor quality of locally made paper, they said that the paper producers were unable to meet the rising demand.
They urged the government to either abolish the import duty on printing paper or reduce it substantially so that the prices of books could come down. The total impact of duties and taxes on paper imports comes to 48 per cent. They added that the annual import bill of books (from pre-school, Cambridge, colleges and universities) ranged from Rs500 million to Rs600 million. Only income tax is charged and there is no sales tax and customs duty on the import of books. The publishers have also been trying to get copyright of foreign publications and in case they succeed, the price of books would come down by at least 50 per cent, they said, adding that foreign publishers had given copyright to many Indian publishers.
For the first time, the Sindh government has planned to provide free books to first and second year students of government colleges this year.
The chairman of the Pakistan Pulp Paper and Board Mills, Kamran Khan, said the mills had raised the prices of high-quality printing paper up to Rs72,000 per tonne in January owing to a high demand in peak season from Rs64,000-66,000 per tonne but last month the increase was reversed.
He said the price of pa- per (made from recycled paper) also declined last month to Rs50,000-55,000 from Rs61,000 per tonne.
He added that prices were increased in January due to an increase in its raw material price (wood pulp) in the international market to $1,080 per tonne from $500 tonne. All other raw material used in paper making had also risen followed by power and gas tariff hikes.
Being an off season low demand, the price of paper would continue to fall further in the coming months, he said, adding that the installed capacity of 40 mills was 1,500 tonnes per day, but they were utilising it at 1,000 tonnes of paper a day. Due to the low demand of paper, he said four to five of the 40 mills had been closed down.
He said publishers had been urging the government for zero per cent rate on the import of printing paper. In case the government agrees to their proposal, the local industry would collapse.
The chairman of the Writing Instruments Manufacturers Association of Pakistan, Naeem Akhtar Yousuf, said the prices of pencils, ballpoint pens, fountain pens, markers, etc, had remained unchanged during the last one year.
The local industry has been fighting against the illegal arrival of Chinese brands through under-invoicing, the Afghan Transit Trade, dry ports, etc. Despite this, the share of local players in pencil manufacturing is 50 per cent while the other 50 per cent arrive through illegal channels. Similarly, in ballpoint pens, the local industry enjoys a share of 45 per cent and the rest by imported items.
The market share of local items has improved owing to the quality and competitive prices. Before 2007, Chinese items occupied 70 per cent market share.
Mr Yousuf feared that the imposition of VAT would wreak havoc on the prices of stationery items and the government should avoid imposing it on the entire education sector.
He said the industry has to keep the prices at competitive level, otherwise the Chinese goods arriving through illegal channels would gobble up the industry. He claimed that legal imports of stationery items had been ranging from two to four per cent.
SU to set up 'fund' for students
Hyderabad: The Executive Council of University of Sindh has decided to constitute a 'fund' for providing financial assistance to poor and meritorious students.
This was decided on Tuesday in a meeting presided over by Vice-Chancellor Dr Nazir A. Mughal. He told the participants that quite a number of students approach him for financial assistance to further their studies. He said that though the university was offering assistance in the shape of bursary and free ship but majority of students were not aware of these facilities.
Participants of the meeting formed a five-member committee to assess ways and means for centralizing the existing system and widening it to the maximum number of needy students.
SPSC interview results
Hyderabad: Only 14 candidates have cleared the interview held for the post of lecturers of Political Science BPS-17 (male/female) in April, said the Sindh Public Service Commission.
Hyderabad BISE assailed for ignoring professors
Hyderabad: The Sindh Professors' and Lecturers' Association of Hyderabad region has criticised the Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education of Hyderabad for ignoring senior professors and selecting junior teachers for the ongoing practical examinations.
At its meeting held here on Monday, the association demanded that the Sindh governor, chief minister and education minister should take notice of what it called anti-education policies of the board.
It demanded that inefficient and retired officials and those working on OPS in the education department should be removed to improve the standard of education.
The meeting demanded that senior external coordinators should be appointed for the oral examination. Dawn
Enquiry into 'transfer' of ghost teachers from Jacobabad
Karachi: Provincial accountant general (AG) and education secretary have yet to initiate punitive action against some 33 individuals, alleged to be ghost teachers, who had been transferred from Jacobabad to Karachi in 2006.
An enquiry initiated by the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) to verify the appointment of these teachers remains in limbo, sources said.
At least 33 "teachers," including junior school teachers (JST), primary school teachers (PST), high school teachers (HSTs) and oriental teacher (OTs), had joined different schools in Karachi. Most of them had submitted fake documents, but were drawing regular monthly salaries since 2006.
A case was referred to the ACE in December last year to verify the teachers' records. Ali Mohammad, an inspector of ACE, was later given charge as the 'enquiry officer' of this matter.
According to complaint number 49/2009, Mohammad started initial investigation and with the help of salary record available with the Sindh Accountant General (AG) and found that many ghost teachers had managed to get illegal inter district transfer. After four months investigation, the case was referred to the legal department of ACE in April, 2010.
An official at ACE, on the condition of anonymity, said that ACE has recovered the amounts drew in lieu of salaries from these allegedly impersonators. The inquiry report has been forwarded to AG Sindh and Secretary Education for further action, he added. However, the ACE officials has said that the process of enquiry in still pending and they could not comment on the matter.
"As per our procedure, we consider that the case is still in 'pre-mature' status and that's why, no official statement can be given to the media," Deputy Director, ACE, Vishno Mal Ukrani said.
He further said that the final (enquiry) report would be presented to the committee to take any decision. "We have two committees, Committee-I looks into the matter reported against the employees of grade 17 and above, while Committee-II, deals with the cases against the employees of grade 1 to 16," Ukrani said.
The District Co-ordination Officer gives the approval of enquiry against the employees of grade 1 to 16 while
Chief Secretary allows the enquiries against the employees of grade 17 and above, he added.
"In this case, the Committee-II will review the allegations and investigation report before taking any action. If, they agree with the enquiry details, then they will send this matter to Secretary Education for necessary action or re-open the case, if they found that the enquiry was not conducted on merit or there was any other imperfection," Ukrani said.
There are three ways to deal the case, ACE lodge FIR for further legal procedure, refer the case to the department for further action or closed the file, it depends upon the nature of the case and evidences collected/provided during investigating any matter, he added.
List of teachers transferred from Jacobabad to Karachi
Name Dedsignation Transffer Remarks
Ms. Samina JST, GGS, GariKhero. Jacobabad Fake.
Ms. Nighat Anjum HST, GGHS Pur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Muhammad Aijaz N/Q GHS Shamspur, Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Amir Ali Shah HST, GHS Gari Khero. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Altaf Hussain HST, GHS Mehran Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Abdul Hamid HST, GHS Sheranpur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Kamiz Akhter JST, GHS Ghari Khero. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Saddique Ali Shah HST, GHS Jacobabad. Jacobabad Fake.
Mrs. Rukhsana HST, GHS Jacobabad. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Mushtaq Hussain HST, GHS Ghari Jacobabad Fake.
Mr Amir Abbass S/o Ghulam Hussain HST, GHS Gahari Khairo. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Zulfiqar Ali S/o Sikander Ali. HST, GHS Doadapur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Nawab Ali Shah S/o Mehar Ali Shah. JST, GMS Hasual Khan Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Pahruddin S/o Muhammad Bux OT, GHS Machi Bundo Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Shaukat Ali JST, GBSS Sheranpur Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Kamil Shah Shah S/o Mehar Ali Shah OT, GHS Doadapur Ghari Khairo. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Sudheer Ahmed S/o Naib Muhammad. HST, GHS Miranpur Buriro. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Abdul Sami Peon GGHS Jacobabad Fake.
Mst. Safia Bibi HST, GGHS Jacobabad. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Akhtar Ali S/o Haji Lal Bux Shaikh JST GBHS GHari Khairo. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr.Abdul Sami JST OBMS Ghari Khairo. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Sadiq Ali S/o Subhan Alli. JST GHSS Doadapur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Rehamtuallah S/o Sahib Dino HST GHSS Jacobabad. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Abdul J/Karim S/o Masteef Khan JST GHS Mehran Kandhkot. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Sadiq Ali Shah S/o Mehar Ali Shah JST GHS Sheranpur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Wali Bux S/o Taj Bux Afridi. JST GHS Sheranpur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Qadir Bux Shah S/o Ghulam Nabi Shah. HST GHS Miranpur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Saeedullah Shah S/o Ghuiam Nabi Shah. HST GHS Doadapur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Iqbal Ahmed S/o Ali Murad. PST GHS Rasool Bux Chachar Kashmore. Jacobabad Fake.
Mr. Mumtaz Ali S/o Muhammad Mithal Chachar. PST GPS Khahi Kashmur. Jacobabad Fake.
Mst. Hajram Khatoon. Jacobabad Fake.
Mst. Shaheen Parveen JST Jacobabad Fake.
Mst. Subhan JST Jacobabad Fake.
Source: List provided by Office of Anti-Corruption Establishment, Karachi.
Schoolteachers stage protests in Larkana, Thatta
Larkana: A demonstration was held here by primary and junior schoolteachers for the fourteenth day continuously outside the Town Hall, Larkana, here on Tuesday.
The PST protested for getting offer orders after the candidates passed the test and the JSTs for getting posting orders. The PSTs Waheed Laghari, Farooq Channo, Zahid Abro, Imran Tunio among others and JSTs Mujahid Chajro, Mumtaz Metlo, Sajjad Bhutto, Hameed Shah, Manzoor Murre, Nasarullah, Waheed Kalhoro and others demanded issuance of the offer and posting orders.
They said that for the last two months, EDO Larkana is not issuing the offer and posting orders to them for the betterment of the education of children. Our Thatta correspondent adds: The Primary Teachers Association (PTA) took out a rally here on Tuesday to register their protest against the delay in acceptance of their demands.
The participants, carrying banners and placards, marched on the National Highway and gathered in front of the Thatta Press Club. They chanted slogans for acceptance of their demands, including increase in salaries, jobs quota for their children and special allowance for those working in rural and remote areas. The news