Church members at the entrance of the Jubilee Church at the Malua headquarters
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 22 MAY 2018: The General Assembly of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS), has rejected taxing church ministers despite the law now enforced and implemented early this year.
It was one of the very first issues discussed by the annual General Assembly – Fonotele of the church yesterday when tabled by the Elders Committee and the session was closed to the media.
A church Deacon told Talamua that there were opposing views to the decision; however the majority agreed to reject it.
Asked if the rejection was due to Government not holding off implementing the law until the issue of taxing the church ministers was put through the General Assembly, the Deacon said “probably” but did not elaborate.
He was also asked about the concerns raised by the church over the lack of public consultations with the Commission of Revenue over the issue, he said that was part of the decision.
When the Minister of Revenue Tialavea Tionisio Hunt who chaired the Commission told Parliament that the church ministers including CCCS were all happy and agreed to the tax, the CCCS leaders were the first to condemn the Minister.
The CCCS leaders said there was no wide consultation between them and Tialavea’s Commission.
The issue of delaying the implementation the law until the issue has gone to the church’s general assembly was a hot issue during the last session of parliament and the Prime Minister said enough time had been given to the church and there was no extension to the implementation of the law that came to force in 2018.
It is expected that the Church Elders will give details of the decision on Friday this week and before the general assembly ends.
The CCCS remains the biggest and influential church in Samoa.