The controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) could ruin plans for more school children to get free mini-computers.
That’s because the Aron and Christina Foundation has been forced to pay ten per cent on the tablets they are giving away to hundreds of Class Three students across the island to aid in their preparation for the 11-plus examination.
The foundation’s founder Aron Truss Wednesday condemned the imposition by Government, revealing the charity’s major project could be stopped in its tracks.
The revelation came as the Aron and Christina Foundation resumed the free tablets project, this time targeting the island’s northern primary schools.
However, Member of Parliament for St Lucy Denis Kellman came to the defence of the Ministry of Finance saying some groups had been abusing the old provisions.
Meanwhile, the charity donated 76 tablets sponsored by PromoTech, to students of St Lucy Primary, Selah Primary, Half Moon Fort Primary School and Ignatius Byer Primary School.
As he encouraged the students to see the mini-computers as a technological aid to further their education, Truss said the charity might not be able to fulfil its promise to donate 700 tablets to 15 public schools due to financial constraints associated with the NSRL.
Truss labelled as “backward” Government’s insistence that charities pay ten per cent on every technological device they donated.
As a result, he said the Foundation’s original promise of giving 700 tablets was proving to be difficult.
“The Government is asking charities and the private sector to assist as much as possible in supporting key services in education and in health and many charities and the private sector are prepared to do this.
“I think it is one step forward and two back if you are going to ask us to do this and then charge us ten per cent for doing it,” said Truss.
“Because of the additional costs that we have incurred with the tablets this year, we are not sure if we are going to have enough for all the students at the 15 primary schools,” he added.
Responding to Truss’ challenges, featured speaker, Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development, Denis Kellman encouraged the Foundation to communicate with the Minister of Finance, Chris Sinckler on the issue.
“Previously, donations were tax free but because they were abused by some . . . Government had to plug the hole,” explained Kellman.
After thanking the Foundation for its generous donations, the Minister of Housing encouraged the students from Selah Primary, Half Moon Fort Primary, Ignatius Byer Primary and St Lucy Primary School to use technology and social media correctly.
“Too many people go on Facebook and write foolishness. Facebook is the best opportunity for any small business person to get his product out or his message and people have used Facebook to personalise things and they do not realise that they are keeping a permanent record and sometimes a negative record of themselves,” said the Minister.
“Too many people see technology in the wrong light and you as students I want to implore you not to use a computer as a displacement but to use the computer as an expansion of your ability to achieve a lot more,” he added.