Temples, monks 'must state assets'

A majority of people believe temples and monks should declare their assets to the National Buddhism Office, and that income from donations should not be taxed, according to the result of an opinion poll by the National Institute for Development Administration (Nida).

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The poll was conducted on Aug 28 and 29 on 1,254 Buddhists of various levels of education and occupation.

Asked whether they think temples and monks in general are transparent in managing their assets, 10.69% thought they were very transparent and 22.89% fairly transparent; while 40.19% thought there was little transparency and 18.10% thought they were not transparent at all. The rest, or 8.13%, had no comment.

Asked whether they thought temples should declare their assets to the National Buddhism Office on a yearly basis, a large majority, 87.24%, said they should do that to prevent corruption since temples have become more commercialised; only 9.33% of the respondents said they should not be required to do so; 3.43% had no comment.

To the question of whether Buddhist monks should be required to report their assets to the National Buddhism Office, 73.84% said they should do so for the sake of transparancy; 21.13% said they need not do so because assets from donations should be regarded as personal income; and 5.03% had no comment.

Asked whether temple income from all forms of donations including tod kathin and pha pa ceremonies should be taxed, most of the respondents, or 82.62% said "no", 14.91% said "yes" and 2.47% had no comment.

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