The issue of Income Tax department’s notices to the churches in Goa has started taking the political colour in the state. As usual, the politicians have started coming out in the protest against the government decision of sending Income Tax notices to the churches in Goa but in the meanwhile, The Archdiocese have worked swiftly and made all the accounts ready to present before the I-T department in a record time of 6 days. This shows the high standard of efficiency and clean working style of the churches in Goa.
In the case of other institutions, it would have been little difficult to comply with the notice in the set time frame. But the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, under which more than 200 churches in Goa functions, have worked very swiftly on the notice of Income Tax Department and prepared the statements of the income to present before the I-T department in a record time of 6 days.
According to the sources, it was highly extraordinary work for the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman to compile the records from around 200 churches, Chapels and Institutions from across the state of Goa in the record time of just 6 days. The deadline provided by the income tax department to the church authority in Goa is ending on Monday, said the sources.
The Church authorities had received two notices from I-T department on the 18th of November asking the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman to submit the details of the cash transactions, donations on or before the 21st of November but since the same was not possible in such short notice, taking into the consideration 200 churches, chapels and institutions spread across the state from North to South Goa. The department had obliged to the request of the church and allowed the extension till 28th of November.
According to the church authorities, they had received two separate notices from the I-T department and given only one week of extension to furnish the details pertaining to Cash Books and Cash in Hand from all churches and institutions. The Archdiocese took up the challenge and completed the huge exercise within six days. “We took up this challenge not only to prove that we are a law-abiding institution but also to show that the Archdiocese has an effective system in place,” said Diocesan Financial Administrator Fr Valerian Vaz, while speaking to The Goan. “It was a mammoth exercise, but we have fully complied with all requirements put forth by the I-T department in both its notices and these details will be submitted on Monday,” he added.
WHY TWO NOTICES
According to the Archdiocese authorities, they had received two identical notices from the I-T department of Goa seeking the identical details from the church’s two distinct entities. One being the CFAGD (The Central Fund of Archdiocese of Goa and Daman) which deals with accounts of various diocesan centres, mass intentions and special collections from the churches for specific purpose while the other entity called FRAGD (The Financial Reorganisation of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman) deals only with general collections for the maintenance and up keeping of church institutions, honorarium to clergy etc. “Both these financial bodies were sent I-T notices dated November 18, which we received on November 21,” he said.
The Church authorities never blamed the I-T department for the notice admitting that it is their right to seek details. However, they showed the concern over an emergency shown by the department while collecting the information from Churches in Goa. “Why were we given such short notice and where was the need for such urgency? Were we not entitled to a reasonable time-period to collect, compile and submit all these details from so many of our churches and institutions in Goa and Daman?” asked Fr Vaz.
“To post a letter dated November 18, which included a weekend in transit, and expect us to comply by November 21 was unrealistic. It was completely unfair as they (I-T) left us with virtually no time to submit our details, as the notices reached us on the very day of our deadline. It looks like the I-T department considers everyone as guilty until proven innocent. But we do not want to appear as if we were defending ourselves, especially since the Archdiocese is an organized, structured, methodical and systematic institution,” the church official added.
In the meanwhile, some local politicians have come out in the support of churches and Archdiocese society of Goa. They protested against the stand taken by Income Tax department against the Christian churches in Goa. The Rajya Sabha MP (Congress) Shantaram Naik said, “It appears that BJP is taking revenge against the minority community in Goa as reports are coming in that some members of the minority community who had supported BJP in the 2012 Assembly elections have realized that BJP is strongly against minority communities throughout India. Leaders of organizations close to BJP are spreading venom against key members of Christians and Muslim communities.”
The former Congress leader Churchill Alemao who is presently sitting in the NCP camp protested against the decision of the ruling government that planted the I-T inquiry on the churches leaving other institutions. he said that he condemns the act of I-T department. “The income tax department does not have right to raid the religious institutions regardless of which community it belongs to. And this act of I-T department has come as shock to the minority section of Goa. I condemn this act,” he said.
The Nuem MLA and GVP Supremo Mickey Pacheco did not remain quiet on this issue. He staged an open attack on ruling BJP demanding the Christian MLAs who are in BJP to ‘come out’ and clear their stand on this issue. “This is an attack on our religion. Why are only churches targeted when we know of big temples stashing huge amounts of wealth. This is the selective targeting of the minorities as the government wants to take forward its agenda of Hindutva,” Pacheco said. Mr. Pacheco was addressing the press conference on Monday.
Whatever the colour this issue might take in the future but the Archdiocese Society of Goa has made it clear that they are clean and ready to support the government whenever required. They displayed the high level of professionalism and working style. Making the political issue out of this subject may not be the right thing as Goa and Goans are always peace loving and secular in nature. Let the peace and justice prevail in our state.