Prof. David Miller immediate past Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies has said government’s decision to bring private universities into tax net will marginalize students from the three northern regions.
He said the main source of revenue for private universities is tuition fees and the removal of the tax exempt statues of these academic facilities would adversely affect northern students as many would not get the opportunity to access tertiary education.
Prof. Millar, also the proprietor of the Open University, a private university based in the Upper East Region, said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga.
Until recently, private universities in the country were exempted from the payment of corporate tax in accordance with section 10 (id) of the Internal Revenue Act.
The Internal Revenue Act (Act 592) amended by Act 859, aims at bringing private universities into the tax net.
According to Conference of Heads of Private Universities in Ghana, there are 63 private colleges and universities, admitting 26 percent of students who enter universities every year with an enrollment of 50,000 students in the 2011/2012 academic year.
Prof. Millar said many investors found it hard to invest in tertiary education in the north due to the high cost of investment with little or no pay back; adding that the tax element in private universities would adversely affects the operations of existing ones.
He called for an affirmative action that would give tax holiday for universities located in disadvantaged areas.
He said: “universities which have been in operation for over 10 years could be taxed while new and emerging ones given a 10 year tax holiday as the existing ones would have made their profits over the years. This will enable the new private universities to pay back loans used for running these universities.
Prof. Millar called for an effective public private partnership between government and private universities to consciously share the cost of disadvantaged universities rather than concentrating more on business.
He said private universities play critical roles in the country’s system and that there is the need for prompt restoration of the tax status of these universities as public universities are unable to admit all students who qualify for university education.
He said private universities are crucially needed to mop up the overflow from the double streams of senior high school and other application who intend to enter tertiary institutions and universities across the country.