The Times of India – SGPC may protest GST on purchases made to run langar sewa

Manish Sirhindi

Patiala-Panjab-India, 7 August 2017. As the GST Council, which met on Sunday, skipped to discuss the imposition of the new tax on items purchased by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which runs free langar sewa, the Sikh’s Mini Parliament is now contemplating to hold protests against the centre.

SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar said there were indications that the GST council would waive-off the tax. But the issue was not even discussed in the meeting. He said the SGPC would take up this matter at the next meeting of its executive and chalk out detailed plan to hold protests against the union government.

Besides, a Rs 10 crore tax burden to run the langar sewa, the SGPC is also anticipating an additional tax burden of Rs 3 crore to run the Pingla Ashrams.

Badungar asserted that SGPC was born out of a strong Sikh struggle and if the need arises, they would not desist from again taking the path of struggle against the ‘unfair tax’ imposed on the Sikh body.

Maintaining that GST was ‘God Service Tax’, Badungar said repeated pleas to the Prime Minister and the Union finance minister had failed to yield desired results. He reiterated that the Union government was working against the hopes and aspirations of the Sikh community.

In his letters, the SGPC chief had requested GST exemption for purchases made by the SGPC to run langar sewa at its Gurdwaras be granted.

He stated that under the previous tax regime all langar items purchased at Sri Akal Takht Sahib, Sri Amritsar Sahib, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Shri Anandpur Sahib and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib were exempted from VAT. However, with the new tax regime coming into force, the SGPC is now liable to pay taxes on these purchases.

He said SGPC was involved in spreading the message of universal brotherhood, tolerance and respect for other religions and was engaged in noble and charitable deeds and thus no tax should be imposed to offering these services to the society.

The procurement bill of langar items such as desi ghee, sugar and pulses comes to around Rs 75 crore annually. With the shift from VAT to GST, the tax of 12 per cent will be levied on desi ghee, 18 per cent on sugar and 5 per cent on pulses, the SGPC is apprehensive that it will be paying Rs 10 crore annually as GST.

Meanwhile, the SGPC will take up the issue at the next meeting of the executive which has been scheduled to be held at Kurukshetra on August 18. Besides, the GST issue, the committee will also discuss the issue related to appointment of the officiating Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib.


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