By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
The finals of the 2020 Inter-Secondary School Debates will see a rematch between defending champions Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) and 2019 runner-up finalist Cedar International School (CIS).
Competing in the first semi-final round of the competition on Wednesday, February 19, the Tortola-based ESHS defeated Bregado Flax Educational Centre from Virgin Gorda in close-knit battle by just three points, winning with 655 points to their opponents’ 652.
First Debate – Free tertiary education burdensome on VI government
Representing ESHS were the trio of Eusa Adams who won the Best Speaker award, Jordan Dawson and Alexia Penn. They argued in favour of the moot: Providing free tertiary education is an unnecessary burden for VI government.
To support their argument, the ESHS students reasoned that while offering free education for tertiary students in the Virgin Islands looks good on paper, it has caused many more problems than it has remedied.
They used the H Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) as a prime example in the territory, stating its reported financial crisis after being $2 million in debt, and also referred to the reduction of government funding in the institution from 2007 to 2019.
They further argued that since the implementation of the Tuition Assistance Programme (TAP) in 2007, the HLSCC has seen a drastic decline in enrolment by almost 50 percent between 2008 and 2017.
Bregado Flax who opposed the moot was represented by Allonah Williams, Jada Barrett and Ryan Ramlall.
They argued that providing free tertiary education in the BVI is a necessary responsibility of government. The Virgin Gorda students pointed to a recent speech by Premier Andrew Fahie in the 2020 budget where he stated that the BVI had experienced inflation of 2.1 percent.
They believed that as a result of this inflation, programmes such as TAP has become even more necessary as most persons would not be able to afford tertiary tuition.
Second Debate – is taxing monies leaving the BVI justifiable?
In the second semi-final debate, Cedar defeated Claudia Creque Educational Centre (CCEC) of Anegada by 29 points, winning 581 to 552.
The CIS team consisted of Amelia Adamson who won consecutive Best Speaker awards, Hailey Chomiak, and Ali Tarabay. The trio opposed the moot: The government’s proposal to tax monies leaving the country is justifiable.
They stated that the tax is one that targets expats, which makes up 65 percent of the territory’s workforce. They believe with such figures, it would be a detriment to the territory should these expats decide to flee, due to implementation of this recent tax.
They also argued that after conduction a survey among 100 residents, a great majority revealed that it was even more difficult to wire money to their respective homeland since the implementation of the new tax.
The Cedar students further stated that financial institutions such as MoneyGram and Western Union already charge customers a service fee to wire money, and by adding government’s tax, it can be viewed as double taxation, which they deem as morally wrong.
For the moot
On the other end of the argument was the team of Gorcia Johnson, Liali Rosario and Angelina Evans of Claudia Creque. They argued that the government’s decision to tax all monies leaving the territory is essential to the BVI, as the territory’s main export commodity is money.
They stated that in order for the BVI to continue to strive globally, these measures of taxing have to be taken to boost the economy.
The CCEC students further stated that taxing monies leaving the territory is not a new phenomenon as it is done in many countries across the world. They also said that the tax has been justified by Premier Fahie, as he clearly revealed in detail all the sectors that will benefit through the implementation of the tax.
The final between the Elmore Stoutt High School and Cedar International School is set for 6 pm on Wednesday, March 11 at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School.
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