Health conscious university kids immediately go on VLCC's VAT-reducing diet. Traffic jam turns into VATtic jam as playing with traffic is the only available bargaining chip.
Many start scratching their heads trying to put two and two together, plus VAT – is higher education a right or a privilege?
Meanwhile, I receive an SMS from my kids' school: "School will remain closed due to unavoidable circumstances." I try to figure out what is unavoidable, VAT or roadblocks?
Then another SMS from NBR that the VAT on private university tuition fee is to be paid by the universities, not the students. The Law of Conservation of VAT doesn't allay the students, perhaps from their anticipating that they are the ones who may eventually have to cough up the extra bucks in the form of a convenience fee.
The protests continue. After the recent shower-power and inundated streets, the streets are once again inundated, but this time with flower-power powered by high carb flour-power. It is an interesting anomaly from the all too familiar fire-power of petrol bombs while we run with our cower-power from arsonists possessing the hour's-power backed by the wannabe-power's sour-power against the incumbent's tower-power.
The tussle is short-lived, ending with a 'V' for 'VAT-less'. No, there was no VAT-ican intervention from Cardinal Fernando Filoni's pastoral visit to Dhaka.
As many ordinary commuters happily put away their VAT-mobiles, aka, bicycles, I smile. But my smile is short-lived. The over-protective dad in me is now panicked at the thought of my 10 and 3 year olds hitting the streets protesting the 7.5 percent VAT that I have been paying for their school tuition fees. And all just for being guilty of going to an English medium school.
Nah, English medium school students are 'all' inside air conditioned houses and cars. They will not bother to hit the harsh streets. Besides, English medium schools are fun, fun, fun, starting with PLAYgroup. So, the notion of no VAT on university education but with VAT on English medium schooling is about education being a right ONLY once one can get over the 12 years of it being a privilege…
But it's not that all English medium schools have been in the VAT net – after all, all English medium schools are equal, some are just more equal than others.
Now, now, don't panic Robi! You won't be VAT-ed for the 'English in Schools' programme. However, just to stay safe, you can think of some proactive deterrent, like Grameenphone's "Cholo Bohudur", i.e., "Let's go far away" (from VAT).
Oh well, I guess it's logical for the Queen's English to come with a premium. To be or not to be, that is, pay the state coffers or just send the kids to [email protected], that is the question. There are some things that money can't buy. For everything else, there is VAT.
But it's Eid time. So, a happy ending can have a happy encore. And so, a stay order on this last remaining VAT on paper chase comes as a second welcome news in a week. The happy dad in me wishes you all a VAT-free Eid Mubarak. And as a gift, this English column comes to you 7.5 percent leaner.
The writer is an engineer at Ford & Qualcomm USA and CEO of IBM & Nokia Siemens Networks Bangladesh turned comedian (by choice), the host of NTV's The Naveed Mahbub Show and the founder of Naveed's Comedy Club.
E-mail: [email protected]