Church defers proposal to set up own bank

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) has been encouraged by some of its members to set up its own commercial bank.

But during the General Assembly last month, the church voted to set aside the motion. They revisit it at next year's meeting.

The proposal for a commercial bank was submitted by the Fa’asaleleaga and the Aleipata Church Districts, in a bid to counter the move by the Ministry of Finance to seize Church Minister’s personal bank accounts.

This is part of the ongoing battle between the C.C.C.S. Church and the Government over the new law requiring Church Ministers to pay taxes on their alofa.

“We respectfully seek the general conference’s endorsement to establish our own bank as per request in previous years," a copy of the submission reads. 

"This bank can cater to the financial needs of the members for savings accounts and loans. 

“The Church Ministers bank accounts have been forcefully seized by the government over the tax issue."

The same appeal came from Fa’asaleleaga.

A member at the conference told the Samoa Observer that it is about time the church established its own bank. 

“The church are able to establish its own bank, we have the finances, we have professional accountants who can assist in this venture,” said Mapu Leota Tulei at the Malua conference. 

He then referred to the Church’s offerings this year which amounted to $19.4million, which is an increase from the previous financial year of $18.3million. 

“Looking at the financial statements by the finance committee, the church currently has $72.97 million as of December, 2018 decrease from the previous finance year of $75.11 million. My point is, the church’s finances are viable and they should consider our own bank,” said Mapu in a brief interview.

The C.C.C.S. Treasurer, Reverend Rimoni, stated the church finances is steady and strong despite the church facing obstacles, the Finance Committee continues to see the increase of the taulaga (offering) annually.” 

The taulaga collected from the Samoa parishes totaled $7.68 million, while that from parishes overseas amounted to $5.57 million with a total collection of $13.17 million.

The C.C.C.S. have several taulaga that are given to the church on an annual basis, such as the Taulaga Nu’uese, Taulaga Taumafai and Taulaga Au Leoleo. 

“The taulaga collected from Nu’uese for the missionaries $2.73 million was from the local churches and $2.48 million from overseas churches and the total amount is $5.2 million. 

“The taulaga submitted from the Au Taumafai for the youth developments $291,325.51 came from Samoa and overseas collected $241,775.33. The taulaga from the Au Leoleo collected for Church Minister’s work from the local churches is $290,991.31 while the Au Leoeloe overseas is $253,354.08," he added. 

The total fund collected this year amounts to $19.48 million, which is an increase from 2017 financial year, Rev. Wright said. 

However, the General Conference voted to set aside the motion for consideration in the next year’s conference.

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