The reform proposal is now in the hands of the National Office of Buddhism for consideration within a month or by June 12, and to return to the cabinet again for final approval before forwarding to the NRC.
Under the proposed reform, monk earning income of over 20,000 baht a month, temple renting spaces in the temple compound for commercial purposes, must be subject to taxation.
Moreover it also proposes the auditing of temple’s assets, the penalties for monks committing violation, and the shortening of tenure of abbot to only five years, instead of lifetime tenure.
In reaction to the proposals, Phra Khru Suthivajirasarn, abbot of Wat Sadet in Kamphaengpet, voiced opposition to the proposals, reasoning that rich temples are mostly in major cities or towns, while many temples in rural areas still could not afford water and electricity bills.
It was therefore inappropriate to tax temple and monks.
He said major income of rural temples are mostly derived from selling amulets and from donations which are hardly sufficient to take care of 36 monks at a temple which has pay water and power bills monthly.
This prompted the people to hold “Katin” merit making ceremonies once in a year to raise fund for the temples, he said.
Funds raised from “Katin” were not much when compared with well-known temples.
On the proposed tax on monk earning more than 20,000 baht a month, the abbot also disagreed, reasoning that each a temple will have religious activities 4-5 times a month, and monk will receive 300-400 baht a time.
If tax is to be levied on monks, he could predict fewer people to ordain to Buddhism.
He also said a proposal to shorten the tenure of an abbot to five years is also impossible as it could wreck the faith of Buddhists the abbot who remain faithful to abbots staying in long tenures.