Nationalist youths urge government to revoke ‘student taxes’ in Budget

MZPN say that the government has increased its income through MATSEC fees by around €454,000 and slam "irresponsible public payments" to government MPs, relatives and friends. 

The youth section of the Nationalist Party (MZPN) urged Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Education Minister Bartolo to revoke the increase in MATSEC examination fees.

“This is an indirect tax that has been introduced on youths and their parents completing their compulsory and post-secondary education, in their bid to achieve qualifications that give them access to further or higher education,” the MZPN said in a statement.

The fee rise, announced on 14 October, means that O level fees have increased from €13.98 to €21 per subject, Intermediate exam fees have increased from €18.63 to €25 and A level exam fees have increased from €20.96 to €26. The registration fee has increased from €11.65 to €15, while the late application fee has increased from €46.59 to €70 and the very late application fee from €23.29 to €35.
A €10 fee has also been introduced for practical O level exams and a €20 fee for practical intermediate and A level exams. Previously, practical exam fees were limited to a €6.99 fee for science A level subjects.

Calculating the fees upon the applications estimated in the May 2014 exam sessions, the MZPN said that the government has increased its income by €454,000 through the exam fee rises.

“The increase in examination fees may not seem exuberant on one single examination however these need to be multiplied upon the number of examinations per sitting by each student,” the MZPN said. “There are cases with families with more than one child sitting for examinations in one year.

“Based on an average SEC student sitting for 10 O-level examinations the expense stood at €151.45 whereas the new fee structure would be at €225.00 – a sharp 33% higher cost. In the case of an Intermediate level examination, with a practical,a €18.63 expense has turned into €45.00 expense – resulting in a sharp 59% increase. Based on the May 2014 session, students would be forking out €311,000 more in registration and examination fees for O levels and in the case of Intermediate and Advanced level a €143,000 increase.”

The MZPN said that this could result in students, particular those from lower financial backgrounds, opting to sit for less subjects in their MATSEC exams, choosing not to attempt September resits, and choosing not to request revisions of exam papers.

They urged the government to fund MATSEC through public funds currently being spent on “irresponsible public payments” to government MPs, such as whip Carmelo Abela, relatives and friends.

“Despite having a communications office in each ministerial secretariat, a state department of information and an office for the Chief of Government Communications, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is giving an additional €30,000 to MP Carmelo Abela to act as government spokesman,” the MZPN said. “It seems that such increases in fees do not merit announcement and explanation by at least one of all these possible government communication channels. Over one full legislature Carmelo Abela's additional allowance of €30,000 would cost the government €150,000. Carmelo Abela's allowance is only the latest of a series of scandalous waste of public funds to appease those close to the Prime Minister.”

In next Monday's budget, Government should put its money where its mouth is.”

More in Budget 2015