Rs 2-cr GST paid: With the purchases made for the world’s largest community kitchen at the Golden Temple coming under various slabs of the new GST since its inception in July 2017, the SGPC had to bear an extra burden of Rs 2 crore till date.Fumed over the Union Government’s insensitive attitude towards “langar sewa” (community kitchen), a socio-religious activity of the Sikhs from the time of the first Sikh Guru, Nanak Dev, SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal has slammed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for giving misleading statements about sparing the community food from the ambit of the GST.The SGPC has sought an appointment with Jaitley to apprise him of the facts and figures. Longowal termed it as an irresponsible behaviour on the part of Jaitley to give vague statements that were far away from reality.“If his statement of GST exemption was true he should issue the notification in this regard. We haven’t received any official communication. We have been paying tax since its implementation. I intend to show him documentary proof of mammoth economic burden we have been bearing for a service that was initiated by our Gurus and which is largely funded by offerings made by the devotees who come to pay obeisance at the shrines,” he said.The SGPC that manages Sikh shrines in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh will end up paying Rs 9 crore as tax to run community kitchen annually.The purchase for the Golden Temple’s kitchen, which feeds between 55,000 to 60,000 devotees daily, comes to around Rs 75 crore annually.As per official figure, between the period July 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018, the total purchase for the Golden Temple’s kitchen was Rs 20.17 crore. The new GST slab had put an extra burden of Rs 1.9 crore.The main ingredient, desi ghee, had invited 12 per cent of the GST. A tax of Rs 1.5 crore was charged on the purchase of 4,188 quintals of desi ghee.Another essential item sugar (6,210 quintals) got dearer by Rs 12.08 lakh after 5 per cent GST was imposed. An added amount of Rs 87,425 and Rs 37,345 was paid on mustard oil (1,300 tins) and refined oil (700 tins), respectively.Similarly, on 1,230 quintals of dry milk, an amount of Rs 10.77 lakh was paid as tax (5 per cent). On 4,440 kg of tea, an extra amount of Rs 65,756 was paid.The 27, 240 LPG cylinders attracted an additional amount of Rs 8.9 lakh.Interestingly, the “dunas” (small bowl made of leaves generally to carry karah parshad) attracted the GST of 5 per cent ending up paying an extra amount of Rs 1.7 lakh on 11,982 bags. Similarly on “pattal” (plate made of leaves) an amount of Rs 35,000 was paid extra for 2,746 bags.During the regime of erstwhile SAD-BJP government, all items purchased for langar by the SGPC at the Golden Temple, Amritsar, Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur, and Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda, were exempted from paying VAT (during pre-GST era).Earlier, the SGPC’s regular pleas of GST exemption on langar purchase to the Finance Ministry, Home Ministry and GST Council fell on deaf ears.
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