Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has apprised Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi of the urgent need to waive off the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on ‘langar’ (food) served in Gurdwaras (Sikh shrines).
The Union minister, who apprised the Prime Minister on this issue on Wednesday, said the GST on langar at Gurdwaras had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs worldwide and should be addressed without any further delay.
She said it was her duty as a Union minister representing the Sikh community to convey to the government that the sentiments of the community had been severely hurt due to the delay in waiving off GST on langar.
Badal made it clear that this issue was of utmost importance for Sikhs and should be addressed immediately. She said the PM assured her that the issue would be addressed appropriately and she was hopeful of an early resolution now.
Badal, who has also written a letter on this issue to the PM, brought it to the notice of PM Modi that she had repeatedly apprised him of the matter from time to time besides submitting a mechanism to address the concerns of the Revenue department against misuse of this exemption.
Explaining the issue, the Union minister said presently procurement of langar items like Desi Ghee, Milk Powder, Oil, Sugar, Doone, Pattal and gas cylinders attracted GST of up to 18 per cent.
Speaking about Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), the minister said the shrine was running the world’s largest mega kitchen which was serving free meals throughout the year to lakhs of devotees.
She said donations for the same came from the humble offerings of devotees and the Shiromani Committee, which manages the shrine, should not be burdened with paying GST for this noble task.
Earlier in a letter to the PM on April 26, Badal taken up this issue with him and briefed him how the concept of langar and community kitchen was started by Sri Guru Nanak Devji in 1481 to propagate the principle of equality in society regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status.