TAHITI CHURCH SAYS INDIRECT TAXES DRAINING POOR

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Proposes income tax as more equitable alternative

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 8, 2011) – A church in French Polynesia wants an income tax - because it says the French territory's present indirect taxes are unfairly punishing ordinary families.

Celine Hoiore, general secretary of Maohi Protestant Church, says people "from all over the world" are attracted to the French Pacific "because this country is free of tax".

But other imposts, in particular the indirect tax on food, disadvantage the poor, she said.

The church says indirect taxes have produced a high cost of living, rising unemployment and homelessness. Both French Polynesia and New Caledonia have very high costs of living.

Equality

[The idea] to introduce income tax to improve social equality arose at the church's annual meeting.

Mrs Hoiore told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat: "The population is struggling (from) the many taxes that are put up by the government, especially on food, all sorts of indirect tax and housing, also."

The church leader points to an imbalance between rich and poor in French Polynesia. "We do not have the same income, but all the things that we are buying, the food that we are buying and also the housing that we are buying . . . are having the same tax.

"The poor are paying the same amount of tax on food (as) the rich, so the poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming rich.

"And that's why we ask the government to re-evaluate and put the specific amount for the rich and a specific amount for the poor, so to have a balance.

"It's why we challenge the government to study very carefully the income of the population, to put the certain percentage according to the income, according to the salary of each person."

Mrs Hoiore said the Oscar Temaru government supports the church stand and is about to start a study into introducing an income tax.

But no one should expect a quick change - the study is expected to take two years.

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