GST Council categorises all paid ‘sarais’ as hotels, guest houses
AMRITSAR: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has recently categorised all ‘sarais’ (inns), which charge a tariff from the devotees for accommodation, same as hotels or guest houses or in other words commercial establishments
AMRITSAR: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has recently categorised all ‘sarais’ (inns), which charge a tariff from the devotees for accommodation, same as hotels or guest houses or in other words commercial establishments.
Elaborating on the decision of the GST council, a senior official said, “Any sarai, irrespective of faith, which charges money from the devotees for accommodation, has already been considered as a commercial outlet.”
Earlier, the hotels, guest houses and ‘sarais’ which charged up to ₹1,000 per day were exempted from paying the GST. However, as per the new GST Council notification, this exemption has now been done away with. “Hotel accommodation priced up to ₹1,000 per day shall be taxed at 12%,” reads the notification.
With the GST Council notification becoming effective, all paid ‘sarais’ have come under the GST ambit, irrespective of the amount of the tariff, location, worship place or faith. “Not only three ‘sarais’ of Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple), all the ‘sarais’ will have to pay GST if they are paid. Apart from Sri Darbar Sahib ‘sarais’, facilities of other worship places also come under the GST ambit,” clarified the official, who is not authorised to speak in an official capacity.
He ruled out the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) officials’ statement that only three ‘sarais’ are bound to pay GST on the ground that these are outside the premises of the Central Sikh shrine.
However, the ambiguity around levy of GST on ‘sarais’ continues among sections of people. “We have consulted the matter with our chartered accountant and as per him only three ‘sarais’ have come under GST ambit,” said Golden Temple manager Sulakhan Singh.
In Amritsar, Durgiana Temple management has two ‘sarais; — Durgiana Yatri Niwas, located outside the temple premises at Gol Bagh, and Shrimati Dhanwant Kaur Dharamshala, built within the temple complex. And the new rule is also applicable for the ‘sarais’ of the Hindu shrine, said Laxmi Kanta Chawla, president of the Sri Durgiana managing committee, adding, “We have called a meeting of the committee on this issue to take measures to revoke this decision”.
Last year, the Union government claimed ₹2.31 crore as GST dues including ₹48 lakh fine from the SGPC for charging ₹11,000 per day at the only luxury sarai ‘Saragarhi Niwas’ as this amount of tariff deprived this sarai from being included in the category of ones which were exempted from the tax.
People familiar with the development said the GST Council officials had timely cautioned the SGPC against charging the tariff more than the exempted limit, yet the SGPC continued to charge the same amount till it got the claim notice from the GST council finally. For this loss of money, the then office bearers, officials and controversial CA firm hired by the SGPC, are being held responsible.
AAP protests GST on Golden Temple ‘sarais’
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday carried out a protest march from Bhandari Bridge to Hall Gate, against the Narendra Modi government’s decision to levy 12% GST on sarais (inns) in Golden Temple.
A large number of AAP workers and Sikh Sangat participated in this protest march. During the protest, agitators raised slogans saying the tax was imposed on Sikhs and Punjabis by the central government.
The protest was led by State Secretary Gurdev Singh Lakhana, Amritsar City president Prabhbir Singh Brar and other AAP workers.
Speaking to reporters, state secretary Lakhana said that “the Modi government’s anti-Sikh and anti-Punjab decision to levy 12% GST on sarais is a very unfortunate matter,”
He termed the GST on religious places as “unfortunate”, saying it was similar to “Jazya”.
He said that these ‘sarais’ are built only for the convenience of pilgrims coming from far distance to pay obeisance at Golden Temple. “No one’s personal interest or benefit is involved here and we condemn this decision of the Center in strong terms,” he said.
Talking to reporters, district president Prabhabir Singh Brar said that BJP has always been doing politics of religion and even now the same is being done by imposing GST on taverns. “Mixing religion and politics is wrong. Religious places should be kept out of the ambit of GST,” he said, adding that “the central government has always taken anti-people decisions.”
He said that by imposing GST on religious inns, the central government has hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community and the Union government should withdraw its decision at once.