US Embassy school to abide by Indian tax laws

Hikes tuition fee, New Delhi begins renewing teachers' visas
Last Updated 27 April 2014, 19:45 IST

The American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi is set to raise its tuition fees by a steep 24 per cent largely to meet additional requirement for abiding by the tax laws of India, after the elite institution came under scanner for allegedly flouting rules and not paying the government its dues. 

India and United States are understood to have come closer to an understanding over the school and New Delhi has started renewing visas of its teachers after the institution promised “100 per cent compliance” with the tax laws of the country.

The AES Board of Governors recently approved the school’s budget for 2014-15, proposing 24 per cent hike in the fees, while as much as 19 per cent of the hike would be required to pay taxes complying with the laws of India.

Many of its foreign teachers had to leave last month as the Indian government declined to renew their visas in the wake of alleged violations of local laws by the institution and some of its employees. Paul Chmelik, the director of the AES, however, on April 17 informed the board that some of the school’s teachers, who had left the country, had now received renewed visas in the US. “We remain hopeful that others presently abroad will join us soon. We do anticipate that a few more faculty members may leave the country pending visas approvals,” he wrote in his report to the AES board.

Marja Verloop, the US ambassador’s representative to the AES Board of Governors, too informed it that Indian and American governments had made progresses in diplomatic negotiation to resolve the issues involving the school.

“As part of these negotiations, commitments have been made to ensure the long term success and viability of AES and the school’s intention to be fully compliant with the host country laws,” said Verloop, according to the minutes of the board meeting put up on the school’s website.

The AES is located on the Chandragupta Marg just adjacent to the US Embassy in New Delhi. 

The sprawling school has about 1500 students from nursery to 12th grade and about 35 per cent of them are Americans, while the rest are nationals of over 50 other countries. Most of the students are children of employees of the US and other countries’ embassies, local units of the international organizations, global non-governmental organisations and executives of multinational companies.

The government put the school under scanner in the wake of a bitter diplomatic spat between India and US following arrest of Indian Foreign Service officer Devyani Khobragade in New York on December 12. Khobragade was Deputy Consul General of India in New York and she was arrested for allegedly underpaying her domestic help, Sangeeta Richards, whom she had hired from Delhi.

The AES authorities had in January asked the school’s female teachers, whose husbands were or would be employed by the school, should mention their occupations as “housewife” in the applications for visa from Indian Government and thus not to reveal that they would be working. 

The AES is also said to be contemplating to raise fund from the corporations and the diplomatic missions in New Delhi. The parents of the students studying in the school have set up a task force to focus on corporate donations.

(Published 27 April 2014, 19:44 IST)

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