Centre to refund GST charged on food items purchased for langar
The GST will be refunded under a new scheme “Seva Bhoj Yojana”, having a total outlay of Rs 325 crore annually.Updated: Jun 02, 2018 09:43 IST
The Union government has decided to refund its share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) charged on the purchase of raw food items by charitable religious institutions for distributing free meals (langar) to the public.
The GST will be refunded under a new scheme “Seva Bhoj Yojana”, having a total outlay of Rs 325 crore annually.
The scheme has been announced after continuous pressure exerted on the Centre by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Shriomani Akali Dal (SAD), an ally of the ruling NDA, that raw food material being purchased for langars served at gurdwaras, particularly at the Golden Temple, which has the world’s largest community kitchen, be exempted from the GST.
The GST is not levied on food served in the langar, but on the purchase of raw material used to prepare food. The items include sugar, ghee, dry fruits, tea and LPG. From July 1, 2017, to January 31, 2018, the SGPC that manages the Golden Temple has paid over Rs 2 crore in the GST on langar items. Around 60,000 devotees partake of langar at the Golden Temple daily.
The SGPC and the Akali Dal have welcomed the Centre’s decision. Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh also hailed the Union government’s decision. “Though the move fell short of complete GST waiver, it would relieve the SGPC of the financial burden. It’s better late than never,” said the CM
Earlier in March, Amarinder announced waiver of the state government’s 50% share in the GST on langar at the Golden Temple, Durgiana Temple, Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath and key shrines of the other communities.
Subsequent to the state government’s decision, the Congress demanded resignation of Akali Dal leader and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union cabinet for her “failure” to get GST waiver on langar items. She later took up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.