DA calls for tax free textbooks

BY Site Admin

The Rhodes Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) held a picket last week Friday in a motion to have VAT scrapped on all textbooks.


This national campaign ran during the course of last week in 17 universities across the country in support of Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament, Dion George’s proposal for zero VAT on textbooks.


According to the campaign’s briefing sheet, all books are subject to the 14% rate of value added tax (VAT) under the current South African legislation.


“South Africa lags behind the rest of the world in our tax policy on books. In numerous countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Philippines and Australia, no tax is charged on books at all.


Comparative research has also shown quite clearly that reducing the cost of books, by reducing VAT charged on them, has a powerful effect on the purchase of books and readership,” the briefing read.


The DA believes that taxing books is a tax on learning, knowledge and literacy. In efforts to prioritise  measures to promote literacy and education, they believe that zerorating on books would be a cost-effective measure to contribute towards this.


DA Constituency Operations Manager, Francois  Greyling said that the initiative is looking at creating awareness of this issue as well as gathering support from the public.


He said if books were zero-rated, a library making a purchase order of 3 000 new books could purchase roughly 400 additional books which would have a positive knockon effect for those South Africans relying on libraries as a source of knowledge.


“We are fighting for it to be passed as a Bill in Parliament, not only for students but the average man on the street and disadvantaged communities,” he added.


He said that this campaign runs together with another ongoing programme to declare education as an essential service, which would prevent teachers from striking.


“To look at a student’s perspective, money is an issue and textbooks change every year, so this may seem like a small thing but every bit helps,” said Rhodes DASO branch leader, Frederik Kirsten in referring to the importance of the campaign.

“We are also trying to get pressure off the students so they can focus on more important things,” he added. He said  that there has been a positive response from the students for this initiative with many signing the petition to show their support.


Rhodes student, Chipo Chakungu said that she signed the petition as books are so  expensive and she finds it even more difficult to buy books as she is not South African.

Another student,  Sandile Dube liked the idea of the campaign as cheaper books would mean saving more money.


Prudence Mini - Grocott's Mail

 May 21, 2010
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