I am a Samoan resident who’s been visiting this country for nearly fifty years.
This year I have found myself extremely disappointed with the quality of the debate in your columns about the tightening of tax treatment of alofa for faifeaus. Much ecclesiasticism but little of it apposite!
In your July 7 issue the E.F.K.S. General Secretary quoted Jesus’ words about sheep and wolves, and about establishing his church on the rock of Peter. I could not relate any of this to the issue at hand.
In the same issue another person devoted one and a half of your pages to proudly display his acquaintance with the scriptures, whilst failing to make a convincing argument on just how the tax changes have breached the Constitution.
Last month the Samoa Observer appeared to be having a bet each way when its editorials challenged the Government to say why it had not made these changes 55 years ago.
An explanation for this could be that what may have been only a nascent problem then has developed into a serious one today. The widespread practise of pastors publicly announcing the amount of each household’s alofa has engendered a competitive giving process, which has lead to indebtedness, and in some cases poverty, within congregations. This contrasts with a widely observed increase in the material comforts enjoyed by pastors.
Now an increasing level of inequality can sometimes breed discord. Perhaps the Government has decided that enough is enough, and that it must now pursue social justice using tax as its instrument.
I think the E.F.K.S. case against the change is a weak one, but it may at some stage claim to speak for one third of the population, If it is able to prevail in this struggle against the Government, the widely used statement: ‘Samoa, a nation founded on God’, may regrettably have to be adjusted to: ‘Samoa, the nation which foundered on God’.