Centre too should waive GST on langar, says SGPC
GENERAL HOUSE MEET: Passes ₹1,159 crore annual budget; seeks refund of ₹4.5 crore central tax; wants representation in Central Board of Film Certificationpunjab Updated: Mar 31, 2018 00:03 IST
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Friday reiterated its demand for complete waiver from Goods and Service Tax (GST) on langar items from the Centre as the levy has hit its budget hard, claiming it has already paid ₹4.5 crore on this count.
During the budget session at Teja Singh Samundari Hall, the SGPC general house unanimously passed its annual budget of ₹1,159 crore for 2018-19, an increase of ₹53 crore from the last year’s ₹1,106 crore.
SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal said though they welcome the Punjab government’s move to waive its share of GST, they want complete waiver from the Centre.
“Also, the money the SGPC have paid as GST so far should be refunded,” he said.
However, he was not equally vocal while interacting with the media when he was asked to comment on the fact that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is not waiving GST despite it is an alliance partner of the Akali Dal which rules the SGPC. He said their negotiations with the Centre are on.
SGPC general secretary Gurbachan Singh Karmuwala delivered the budget speech in the presence of Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and Longowal. All the members gave their approval by raising their hands amid ‘Sat Sri Akal’ slogans.
In the budget, ₹689 crore has been earmarked for gurdwaras under Section-85 of the Gurdwara Act, 1925, ₹66 crore for general board fund, ₹56 crore for trust fund and ₹36 crore for educational fund.
Slight hike in allocation for education
Education has been the thrust area of the SGPC in the past some years and a major share of the budgetary allocation is proposed to be spent on educational institutions — 37 colleges and 53 schools. However, there was no sizeable increase in the allocation this year. During the last fiscal year, the allocation was increased by more than ₹11 crore while it is only ₹1.5 crore this time. ₹228 crore allocation has been made for 2018-19 for the institution against the last year’s ₹227 crore.
While ₹6 crore has been allocated to Miri Piri Medical College, Shahbad Markanda (Haryana), ₹2 crore was given to Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University (SGGSWU), Fatehgarh Sahib. But no aid has been provided to Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences, Amritsar.
An additional ₹36 crore has been allocated under the education fund which will be utilised under various student welfare schemes, including scholarships to Sikh students studying in SGPC-run institutions.
To encourage Sikh students to appear in civil services examinations, the SGPC announced to give ₹1 lakh to those who clear the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and allied services examination, while ₹75,000 for clearing the Punjab Civil Service (PCS) exam.
The SGPC has set aside ₹76 crore for ‘dharam parchar’ (religious propagation) committee, an increase of ₹3 crore from the last year’s allocation. Of the ₹76 crore, the committee will spend ₹16 crore for intensifying the drive for propagation of Sikhism.
“This drive is dedicated to 550th parkash gurpurb (birth anniversary) of Guru Nanak Dev. This gurpurb is being celebrated on a large scale at the historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala,” said Longowal.
SGPC member and former Akali minister Tota Singh questioned the dharam parchar drive. He said gathering crowds will yield no result and the SGPC needs to make direct contact with people besides helping the poor section of the society.
₹9 crore has been set aside for cancer patients, ₹1.15 crore for medical services through mobile vans, ₹61 lakh for providing aid to natural calamity-affected people and ₹8 crore has been earmarked for printing presses.
Seeks representation in CBFC
While presenting other resolutions passed by the house, the SGPC chief condemned the negative portrayal of Sikhs in movies and TV serials. He urged the Centre to give the SGPC representation in the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to prevent insulting of Sikhs.
He also demanded that they should have a representative in the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) while deciding the syllabus.
He reiterated demands such as return of rare manuscripts and other items taken away by the Indian army during the Operation Bluestar, punishing culprits of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, constructing a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur) to Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan), raising the turban issue with France and releasing the Sikh prisoners.