One of the outcomes of a closed-door meeting between the President of Ghana , Nana Akufo-Addo and some notable clergymen in Ghana includes the setting up of a body to consider taxing churches.
The Breakfast meeting saw the heavy presence of some notable men of God including the Founder of action chapel international, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams, Archbishop Palmer Buckle of the Cape Coast Diocese of the Catholic Church , Rev. Owusu Bempah of the Glorious Word and power Ministry, Bishop Charles Agyin Asare ,Presiding Bishop of the Perez Chapel among others.
Addressing the press after the meeting, Rev. Victor Osei, Senior Pastor of the Family Life Chapel, Kumasi and Vice President of the Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches,stated that the president hinted of a committee that would soon be formed to oversee taxing of churches in the country and it will include all religious bodies.
Rev. Victor said:” the religious community is much more than the church. We tend to forget that it includes Muslims, eastern religions are all part of religious bodies. Normally, people just talk about the church, but for all these bodies, some monies come out and some money comes in so at the end of the, it should all inclusive. All these things were spoken about and we know the way forward is going to be good”.
Meanwhile Government and the clergy could not take a decisive resolution on how to proceed with the controversial National Cathedral project although the issue was high on the agenda of the breakfast meeting at the Jubilee House.
According to the clergy, the Board of Trustees of the National Cathedral project were yet to meet and come to a consensus on the matter, hence they could not make conclusions at the breakfast meeting.
The meeting between the government and the clergy on the project became necessary following barrage of criticsms over plans to evict some judges from their homes to make way for the construction of the 5,000-seater capacity cathedral.
While some have questioned the propriety of the construction of the Cathedral and the government’s involvement in the project, others are questioning the decision to use an already developed area like Ridge.
But according to the Vice Chairman of the Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches, Victor Osei, the Board of Trustees will hold a meeting next week to agree on the way forward.
He said it is inappropriate for the board to make public statements on the matter especially at a time when public tension on the subject is high.
“Sometimes it is better to let the fire come down before you come out and make certain statements. In the midst of flames, people say a lot of things. If you go to Nigeria, there is a National Cathedral, there is a National Muslim Cathedral. In a lot of countries, these things are there, so I don’t think [in] Ghana [it] is anything strange if people decide to come together to aid government set up a national cathedral,” he said.
While discounting claims that the board has remained silent on the matter, he said it is seriously considering the arguments and will soon take a decision on it.
“The board of trustees is not silent on this issue. You should allow people to say all that they want to say, they should vent out their spleen and then at the end of the day you come out when things are calm and say this is what is going to be done. But in the midst of the discussion, it is absolutely sometimes inappropriate to come out with things… I believe that the board will come together,” he said.
The board is expected to meet on Tuesday 4th September, 2018, and will meet with President Akufo-Addo subsequently to take a final decision.
On the other hand , President Akufo-Addo has highlighted the relevance of such engagements with the clergy which he said will help him inform them about the intentions of the government while listening to their respective concerns.
“I also felt that on a periodic basis, it will be good for me to meet with you [clergy] so that we can also deal with matters that are of concern to you and matters that are of concern to me as the head of government. I’m hoping that what we are doing here today is going to be a regular feature of my government, so something like a couple of times in a year we have an opportunity to meet and I will hear your considerations and you will hear the things that are on the heart and minds of government because it is important that from the different angles from which we approach the public interest, we work together,” Akufo-Addo said.
“It doesn’t mean we agree on everything, but it means we have an attitude of cooperation,” Nana Akufo-Addo added.
To this he said: I am hoping that what we are doing here today is going to be a regular feature of my government so a couple of times a year we have the opportunity to meet and hear your considerations and you will also hear the things that are on the heart and minds of my government.