Private universities have raised concerns over what they call Red-tape way of doing things in processing paper work at the Ministry of Education which delays them.
The concern was raised was made Thursday January 16 by proprietors and rectors of private universities, under their umbrella body, the Rwanda Association of Private Institutions of Higher Education (ARIPES) during a meeting with the Minister of Education, Dr Vincent Biruta.
According to Rector of Ruhengeri Institute of Higher Education Father Deogratias Niyibizi, Many private universities send important documents to the ministry, but it is surprising that they take over a year without being signed or even getting feedback, which in a way hinders their operations.
“The ministry should curb such bureaucracies and foster our partnership,” said Niyibizi.
The meeting was hosted at Kigali Independent University (ULK) which has 12,201 students, the largest private university in the country.
Universities also appealed for a review of tax regimes, especially on the importation of computers, to reduce the cost of running the institutions.
“Plans to look for IT equipment to facilitate our activities are usually hampered because taxes are not waived, particularly on equipment like computers. These tools are very expensive to purchase and when we are taxed, it becomes even more burdensome,” Niyibizi added.
“The law states that religious and humanitarian bodies and those that promote ICT in the country are exempted from this tax or taxed less, unless their audits indicate that they are profit making entities. Since our trade is to bring knowledge and promote the understanding of ICT, we request that the concerned (authorities) look into this and make us beneficiaries of reduced taxes”.
Rwanda Revenue Authority imposes a withholding tax of five percent on computers.
In response, Biruta requested the university heads to compile all documents that were not responded to by the ministry and assured them that action would be taken in the shortest time possible.
“The ministry had a few challenges, particularly with its capacity to handle all pending issues, not just from the private, but public institutions as well,” Biruta admitted.
“We received a flood of documents from various institutions yet we lacked enough manpower to look through all of them; however, we assure you that you will get responses”.
Concerning tax policies, the minister promised to hold discussions with concerned authorities to see what can be done to reduce the tax burden.
Established in 2004, ARIPES has a membership of 10 private higher learning institutions of the fourteen that operate in the country. The ten institutions have over 34,000 students.