Thais say temples, monks must declare assets, holdings to government

(Photo: REUTERS / Athit Perawongmetha)A soldier walks past barefoot Buddhist monks begging for alms outside a temple near Government House in Bangkok May 23, 2014. Thai army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha summoned ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to a meeting on Friday, a day after he seized power in a bloodless coup, saying he wanted to restore order following months of turmoil in the polarised country.

Buddhists, who make up more than 90 percent of Thailand's 68 million people, want their monks to be transparent when it comes to money matters.

But they say monks need not declare everything they acquire.

The majority of Buddhists in Thailand believe that temples and monks should declare their assets to the National Buddhism Office to curb corruption.

They believe, however, that their income from donations should not be levied.

An opinion poll conducted by the National Institute for Development Administration, found that 87 percent of Thais said temples, which are fast becoming commercialized, should declare their assets to prevent corruption, the Bangkok Post reported.

Only nine percent of the 1,254 Buddhists of from different educational and occupational backgrounds said they should not be required to do so and three percent had no comment.

Three out of four respondents (75 percent) also said Buddhist monks should be required to disclose their assets to the National Buddhism Office "for the sake of transparency".

At the same time one in five respondents (21 percent) said they see no need for monks to disclose their assets as money from donations should be regarded as personal income, reported The Nation.

At least five percent did not comment on the issue, according to the report.

The results of the survey further revealed that 40 percent of the respondents believe that temples and monks in general lack transparency in managing their assets; while 11 percent think differently and see them as "very transparent."

At least 23 percent of the respondents said they were "fairly transparent" and 18 percent thought they were not transparent at all.

But when asked whether they agreed that temple income from all sorts of donations, including tod kathin and pha pa ceremonies (annual robe offering ceremonies) should be subjected to tax, 82 percent said "no," while 15 percent said "yes."

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