23 February 2019, Apia Samoa. Members of the National Council of Churches sought a meeting with the Government this week to discuss the issue of 20 EFKS church ministers facing charges relating to the newly imposed tax laws.
During his weekly media programme Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi said that the elders of the NCC including Rev Kasiano Leaupepe and Rev Elder Aisoli Iuni contacted him on Tuesday for a meeting.
The Prime Minister said that he gathered the Minister of Revenue Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, Attorney General Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff as well as the Samoa Law Reform Commissioner Dr. Teleiai Dr. Lalotoa Mulitalo for the meeting.
“They came asking for help from the Government for the issue EFKS is facing at the moment,” said Tuilaepa.
Tuilaepa said that he explained to the NCC that it was very difficult for the Government to do anything at this stage because court proceedings had commenced.
“E le mafai la ona toe fai se isi galuega a le Malo.
“Ma o le mea foi lena o lea ou te augata ai e tali atu le tou mataupu ona o lea ua oo i le taimi faigata ua fofoga i luma o le tulafono.”
According to Tuilaepa this may be the best way to solve this issue between the EFKS Church and the Government.
He added that the Minister of Revenue and the Department did give the chance to the EFKS before court proceedings however the church stood by its decision to reject the law.
The Prime Minister said that 36 churches in Samoa have accepted the law and it was only the Congregational Christian Church (EFKS) that is rejecting it.
“O le itu faigata lea e iai e 37 ekalesia ia ua lesitala nei talu mai ona fofoga le tulafono o lona uiga la afai e 37 e 36 ekalesia ia e usitai i le tulafono ae tasi ai a le ekalesia ua faauliulito a le taofi e faafeagai pea i luma o le faamasinoga.
“O au la lea ou te nofonofo ma ou faapea e leiloa poo le auala lea e fofo ai le mataupu o le faaauau pea o le faamasinoga.”
Tuilaepa said if the Court decision backs the position of the church that pastors should not be paying taxes then that is what will prevail.
“Aua a aumai lava la e le faamasinoga le iuga, o lena lava.
“A aumai a e le faamasinoga e sa’o le vaega lea e le tatau ona totogi lafoga a tagata o Le Atua, ua magalo foi le malo ia.”