Samoa government compromises on ministers’ taxes

taxes

This week a bill was rushed through the Samoan parliament exempting monetary gifts (alofa) received by ministers during funerals, weddings and other traditional occasions from the new taxes.

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) General Secretary, Vavatau Taufao, said the changed section should never have been a part of the law.

Taufao said the Prime Minister and government officials also got big handouts from similar events and they were not taxed for them.

Last week the CCCS had a meeting with prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to clarify its position and to propose alternative measures.

On Monday the Samoa Observer had reported that Tuilaepa refused to answer questions about the meeting.

Asked whether Cabinet has reached a decision regarding the elders’ visit, and if they had responded to a letter in which the Government had been asked to reconsider the taxing of Church Ministers’ alofa, Tuilaepa declined to comment.

“Don’t ask me about that,” he told the media.

“Leave the pastors alone – until they want to pay their taxes, that is none of your business.”

“See how disrespectful you are, can’t you see I don’t want to talk about it and yet you are still asking?”

Tuilaepa said that of the thirty-five different Christian denominations in Samoa, 34 had not said anything.

And he added that those 34 denominations represented 75 percent of the population.

Earlier, Taufao, in referring to other church denominations who support the new taxes, said his congregation is a democracy and therefore the majority rules.

“It’s like anything else – there are some people who support the laws if it’s out of their respect for the Government, but the vast majority of church (sic), 98 percent or 99 percent support our congregation’s position to stand firm on this taxing alofa issue.”

Source

News category: Asia Pacific.

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