Nkhoma Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has asked for flexible tax payment terms as the synod is grappling with fines due to outstanding Pay as You Earn (Paye) arrears amounting to over K360 million.
The synod’s newly elected moderator, Reverend Philip Kambulire, said this in Dedza District during the Biennial Assembly for CCAP at Namoni Katengeza Lay Centre at an event which President Lazarus Chakwera attended.
“We have been struggling to remit Paye and pension [dues] due to Covid economic effects. The government should be flexible,” Kambulire said.
The moderator did not mention the figure at the event but, in a phone interview, the synod’s general secretary Reverend Vasco Kachipapa told The Daily Times that the church owed Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) about K400 million. Kachipapa said, in the past two years, they have accumulated about K260 million but that, before that, the arrears were already above K100 million, bringing the total to the current figure.
“It is about K260 million for all our departments, which include education, hospitals and youth,” he said. Kambulire also drew Chakwera’s attention to the tendency of some Malawians who are selling land anyhow, saying, if the situation were not tamed, a good percentage of Malawians would be homeless.
In response, Chakwera said the government had been engaging local and international organisations, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, on economic challenges it has been facing due to the Covid pandemic.
He said, likewise, the church could freely discuss issues with responsible institutions.
“You, as a church, are in this situation because the people you are ministering to have been affected, some are not getting their salaries while others had their companies closed,” Chakwera said.
The President encouraged engagement between the church and agencies such as MRA on the possibility of rescheduling such payments because economic hardships had not spared any sector.
“If we say the nation is struggling, we are not saying one person; we are saying the whole nation,” he said.
The President further urged churches to contextualise their preaching regardless of where they got their training for the good of the nation.
“Let us join hands so that our teachings, preaching and prophecies should help our country to independent,” he said.
Chakwera contributed K2 million towards the ongoing construction of a hall at Namoni Katengeza Lay Centre. During the assembly, the church elected Reverend Philip Kambulire and Reverend David Zembeni as Moderator and Vice Moderator, respectively.
The 39th assembly under Nkhoma CCAP Synod takes place every two years where, among other activities, the church reflects on the previous two years and plans for the next two years.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.