With the Narendra Modi government deciding to waive Goods and Services Tax (GST) on charitable institutions for distributing free food to the public, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) termed it as historic decision.

In a joint Press statement, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said the decision to grant exemption on GST on purchases for langar (community kitchen) in gurdwaras and other religious shrines in the country is the “government’s token offering to the spirit of this unique tradition started by the great Gurus”.

To give effect to the government’s decision to exempt purchases for langar from GST,  a new scheme has been launched to be called Seva Bhoj Yojna.
Under this scheme, GST paid on purchase of specific items by religious shrines/charitable institutions for distributing free food would be reimbursed to the bodies concerned. The decision will cover Shri Harmandar Sahib and all five thakhts.

In addition to all gurdwaras, the exemption will also apply to all “all registered charitable bodies, societies and which have be in existence and active in free langar for the past five years or more”.

Under the plan, the Central government has a financial outlay of Rs 325 crore through which the Central GST and Central government’s share of Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) on the purchase of items by “charitable institutions for distributing free food to the public” will be re-reimbursed.

Gurdwarasrunning community kitchen (langar) were feeling the pinch under the GST regime. At the Golden Temple complex, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee claimed to have paid nearly Rs 2 crore as GST.

Meanwhile, Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore has also welcomed Union government’s decision to waive off GST on the ‘langars’ served in gurdwaras.

He said that the food bill of Golden Temple alone is around Rs 75 core per year as daily about 70,000 to 80,000 people visit the holy shrine and on weekends this number increases to 1.25 lakh to 1.50 lakh per day. On auspicious days like, Gurpurb, Diwali, Baisakhi, this number touches 6 lakh.