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Centre to refund its share of GST on “langar sewa” by religious institutions

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The Centre has decided to refund its share of GST charged on raw materials being procured for preparing food at langars (free meals) by religious institutions.

Announcing the government’s decision, union minister for food processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that the Centre will refund the tax under a new scheme ‘Seva Bhoj Yojana’, PTI reported.

NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had been demanding withdrawal of the tax on purchases made for langar services.

Prior to the introduction of the GST, there was no VAT on the purchase of supplies for food prepared at langars.

Because of the GST, the SGPC, which runs langar services at the Golden Temple along with a number of other Sikh shrines, had expressed its concerns over the financial burden because of imposition of GST on .

The Centre on Friday announced a scheme called ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’, with an outlay of Rs 325 crore for financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20, to refund its share of the GST on ‘langar’ and similar religious meals.

Nitish thanks Centre for keeping ‘langar’ out of GST purview.

Nitesh Kumar
Nitish thanks Centre for keeping ‘langar’ out of GST purview

PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday thanked the Centre for keeping ‘langar’ (free meals) out of the purview of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and deciding to reimburse the GST already realised on the raw materials used to prepare meals in community kitchens run by religious organizations, such as ‘langar’ in Gurudwaras

“I express my gratitude to the union government for keeping ‘langar’ out of the purview of the GST and deciding to refund its share of the GST already realised on raw materials used to prepare religious meals like ‘langar.’ The decision will provide relief to religious institutions and common people,” Nitish,JD(U) president, said in a statement.

“I express my gratitude to the union government for keeping ‘langar’ out of the purview of the GST and deciding to refund its share of the GST already realised on raw materials used to prepare religious meals like ‘langar.’ The decision will provide relief to religious institutions and common people,” Nitish,JD(U) president, said in a statement.

Earlier on April 12, 2018, Nitish Kumar had written a letter to union finance minister-cum-chairperson of the GST Council Arun Jaitley, asking the Centre to exempt from the GST all the inputs required for preparation of ‘langar’ (free meals) at Gurudwara across the country.

“You will agree that Gurudwaras are engaged in charitable activities and are well recognised as centre of self-less services. The most prominent of such activities is providing food through ‘langars’, to everyone and anyone who visit a Gurudwara. Even though food served through a ‘langar’ is not liable to tax under the GST but some significant inputs like sugar, ghee, edible oil, spices etc are taxable. The GST on these inputs increases the expenditure of Gurudwaras,” Bihar CM had said in his letter.

The ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’ envisages reimbursement of the Centre’s share of Central GST and IGST on purchase of raw items such as ghee, edible oil, atta /maida /rava /flour, rice, pulses, sugar and jaggery, which go into preparation of prasad or langar offered free of cost by religious institutions.

The scheme applies to only those charitable or religious institutions — temple, gurudwara, mosque, church, dharmik ashram, dargah, math and monasteries, that have been in existence for at least five years, and that serve free food to at least 5,000 people a month.

 

Sukhbir Singh Badal
The matter had been taken up with the Union Finance Ministry which “has given positive signals”. Sukhbir Singh Badal

This decision comes after SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal who along with his wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal paid obeisance at the shrine on 30th May 2018. said the matter had been taken up with the Union Finance Ministry which “has given positive signals”. “There is a delay as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is not keeping well. You will soon get the good news,” he said. Harsimrat, too, has reportedly taken up the issue sternly with the Union Government and reports suggested that she had even threatened to quit,report by thetribuneindia.