PETALING JAYA - While education is among the essential services to be exempted from the Goods and Services Tax, there is concern among parents and students about other related costs going up.
With GST due to be implemented on April 1 next year, father-of-three Danial Abdullah, said that he was worried about education-related costs such as uniforms, school shoes and school bags.
"My two younger ones are in primary school, and they seem to outgrow their shoes and uniforms in just months! Expenses may seem small at first, but it all adds up," he said.
With two children currently enrolled in private colleges, businessman Lee Kah Woon said he hoped that fees for tertiary education would not increase fur- ther.
"It's not just about the main fees, because colleges also charge fees for other things such as the use of facilities.
"I also have to worry if their rental for accommodation will increase as well," he said.
Political science student Rita Naidu said she was uncertain about some of the items gazetted for GST exemption.
"It says that textbooks and reference books are text-exempt, but what about other books?
"My reading list included non-fiction books on politics, for example, but they're not exactly textbooks; these can easily cost RM100 per book as it is," she said.
National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan said it could be possible for private institution fees to increase after the GST was imposed.
"Of course, education itself is tax-exempt but teaching is just one part of a university's operating cost.
"Institutions also have to think about the overall cost of running a campus, from general maintenance and upgrading works, to equipping science laboratories.
"Some may complain that the cost of private education is more expensive than in public universities, but they have to realise that the latter institutions are subsidised by taxpayers' money.
"If private universities are unable to cope with these costs, they would eventually have to pass it on," he said.
He added that the association hoped the Government would consider making private tertiary providers zero-rated GST.
"This means that we will be able to claim the extra costs of goods and services affected by GST.
"We're also planning to hold a discussion for our members to explain how tertiary providers can prepare for the possible effects of GST," he said.