Government seems less responsive to public demands but more eager to please special groups11 September 2015 Editorial Desk
Chaos and lawlessness gripped the city as students of private universities took to the streets yesterday protesting VAT on their institutions taking the situation at a breaking point. Students fear that the VAT will increase their tuition fees and they want the government to withdraw it. More importantly, private universities are discriminated against public universities.
Chaos and protest swept across the private university campuses and they locked in fights with police and as it appears unidentified young men blamed to be ruling party cadres later emerged in the scene to clear the streets.
TV footage shows students and unknown party activists are chasing each other at Dhanmondi last night where transport vehicles were also damaged in the violence. Such occurrences were also reported from other city points till last evening.
Meanwhile, public universities have also turned violent over the past few days protesting the new pay scale.
But the government appears inefficient to face critical situations and careless about lawlessness everywhere making people feel helpless.
The reckless comment by Finance Minister at this moment that public university teachers have lack of knowledge has further aggravated the campus protest. Most people blame the Finance Minister's thoughtless and hasty remarks for causing irritation among others. Something has gone wrong with him. He was not like this.
In all teachers of 37 public universities are observing work abstention from Wednesday protesting the Finance Minister's unsavory comment. It appears that the minister has already apologized but the damage has already been done making the varsities violent breaking their peaceful environment.
The Finance Minister is again primarily responsible to push the students to take to the streets. He is paying Tk. 15,905 crore this year as additional cost to pay for the new pay scale of government servants. The additional cost will cross Tk.23,000 crore from next year showing compulsion to make them happy.
In this situation people now see a parallel to imposing 7.5 percent VAT on private universities as part of the government desperate move to collect more and more revenue for funding the unprecedented pay scale for bureaucracy.
The government has enhanced taxes and duties an everything possible to raise money without caring the hardships being caused to the ordinary people. It appears unresponsive to the people's needs and too eager to help the privileged groups.
The government has already raised utility charges and levies on government services to collect more revenue by recklessly raising the cost of business and the people's cost of living. Though the Finance Minister is not responsible for all the financial decisions, but he attracts all the blame.
NBR officials assertion that VAT on private universities would not affect the students is in fact and attempt to treat education a business and trying to tax it like any other commodity. The government must know education can't be a source of funding the bureaucracy by way of new tax.
Students of least a dozen private universities in the capital in addition to some other cities on Thursday made acrimonious protest causing traffic jam in the streets forcing buses and private transports to wait for hours together. Earlier 35 students of East-West University were injured in police action. It is unfortunate that the government is trying to deal the students with police while sidetracking the real issue. Students have warned they would return to the streets until the VAT has not been withdrawn indicating more chaos.
This is a time when the teachers of the public universities are also agitating demanding a separate pay scale as they have rejected the new pay scale as degrading to their status and financial interest. Government College teachers have also joined the agitations as they said the new pay scale for the government servants has deprived them of the selection grade in their service. Primary school teachers have also started movement, demanding upgradation of their status. Meanwhile Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) remained almost closed since April this year as a section of teachers are demanding removal of the Vice-Chancellor while the government is protecting him from falling into disgrace. As it appears that the country's academic activities are facing severe setback and the blame must go to the government.
The government appears good at creating chaos, disorder but always enthusiastically talk of development.