Charitable services being conducted by religious congregations may need to be reviewed once the GST is introduced, according to Sr Mary Cresp, executive director of Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI).
    Sr Mary said administering the GST will increase costs for religious congregations and consequently ministeries they are involved in will be affected in some way.
    "Decisions will have to be made about these services," Sr Mary said. "Many religious congregations use their own funds to support their members working in areas such as low income communities where they are not being paid.
    "Some services do not receive government funding and their future will have to be reconsidered. Services such as as providing basic advice on how to access literary programs or budgeting could be affected," she said.
    Sr Mary said ACLRI along with other sections of the Church were conducting seminars on the GST across Australia. She said the time and effort currently going into GST education programs as well as future administration of the GST are causing concern for some religious orders.
    Meanwhile this week's Catholic Weekly reports on a paper on GST implications produced by The Australia Institute, an independent public policy and research centre in Canberra. The paper concludes that the Prime Minister's promise that charities will be no worse off under the GST can only be met if substantial changes are made to the definition of what constitutes a charity and its 'non-commercial' activities.

ACLRI & Cath Weekly 18/2/00

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