Catholics threaten to withdraw social services

The Catholic Church has threatened to withdraw from health, education and other social programmes if government does not reverse its decision on taxing donations.
The church complained that taxing of donations by the PF government was ill advised and not in public interest as it would directly affect the fight against poverty among poor people mainly in rural Zambia.
ZEC president Archbishop Ignatius Chama said that the church will have no option but to disengage from offering social services if government did not reverse its decision on Statutory Instrument (SI) 103 on taxing donations which had become law.
Archbishop Chama said the implementation of this policy decision in their view was punishing the majority poor who were the beneficiaries of the services offered by the Church and other charity institutions.
He said,“If the decision on SI 103 is not reversed, it will be impossible to offer social services as the Church is doing now. Therefore as ZEC, it is regrettable that we may be forced to disengage from offering social services such as health, education, vocational training, home based care and hospices due to diminished capacity occasioned by the implementation of SI 103. The implication of this is that the poor who are the main beneficiaries of the services of the Church will suffer as they will be deprived of essential social services provided by donations from overseas through local charities”.
He advised that government must endeavour to work to promote the common wellbeing of all the people and urged government to seriously reconsider reinstating the previous procedure which provided appropriate criteria for clearance.
Archbishop Chama said that If the decision on SI 103 was not reversed, it would be impossible to offer social services as the Church was doing now.
“The implication of this is that the poor who are the main beneficiaries of the services of the Church will suffer as they will be deprived of essential social services provided by donations from overseas through local charities. We urge the Government to seriously reconsider and reinstate the previous procedure which provided appropriate criteria for clearance,” he said.
And Archbishop of Lusaka Teresphore Mpundu told the media briefing that over 50 percent of the rural population would be directly affected if the church withdrew its services on the ground that government has attached difficult conditions on the services.

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