Roll back GST on sarais of Golden Temple: Punjab CM

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DW BUREAU / Chandigarh Describing the decision of the Government of India to levy GST on the Sarais in the vicinity of Sri Darbar Sahib, Amritsar as an arbitrary and irrational decision, the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday demanded that it should rolled back. In a statement issued here today, the Chief Minister condemned the decision of the Union government to levy the GST on the sarais of Golden Temple. He said that the sarais including Guru Gobind Singh NRI Niwas, Baba Deep Singh Niwas and Mata Bhag Kaur Niwas are associated with the Golden Temple. Bhagwant Mann said that these Sarais are meant for the accommodation of the devotees visiting the holy shrine and have always been an integral part of the gurdwara complex. The Chief Minister said that since decades these sarais have been providing comfortable stay to the Sangat arriving at Sri Darbar Sahib on no profit basis. He said that the levying of GST on room charges of these three sarais will lead to higher tariffs thereby putting a huge burden on the pocket the pilgrims who come at Sri Darbar sahib for paying obeisance from across the globe. Bhagwant Mann unequivocally said that the Sarais at the Sri Darbar Sahib complex are non commercial entities and have been constructed for the convenience of thousands of pilgrims coming daily at this holy shrine. The Chief Minister lamented that this decision of GoI is baseless and must be withdrawn without any delay. Bhagwant Mann said that earlier the NDA government had in another such decision imposed GST on langar. He said that now again through this act the Union government has bruised the psyche of all the devotees coming at Sri Darbar Sahib in general and Sikhs in particular. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) too had on Monday criticised the government for imposing the tax on the 'sarais' (inns). It said after receiving a notification from the GST council, the SGPC had begun to charge 12 per cent GST on the room tariff of these inns provided to devotees visiting the Golden Temple. The apex gurdwara body said lakhs of pilgrims from across the world visit the Golden Temple to pay obeisance every day and the Sikh body had made arrangements for their stay. "But sadly, the government of India has put an additional burden on 'sangat' (congregation) by imposing GST on 'serais' (inns)," SGPC assistant secretary (media) Kulwinder Singh had said. The inns built by the SGPC for the convenience of pilgrims arriving at the gurdwaras are not commercial properties and therefore, any kind of tax on them is an injustice, the SGPC had said. Meanwhile, Bathinda MP and former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the GST, saying the move has left the Sikh community shocked. "Central govt decision to impose 12 % GST on accommodation charges in 3 'Serais' run by SGPC outside Sri Darbar Sahib premises has shocked Sikh community. These Serais cater to devotees from across the world & are non profit institutions. I request PM @NarendraModi not to tax devotion of pilgrims & revoke this totally unjustified decision," she tweeted. (editor@dailyworld.in)




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