The “tedious” system of claiming refund against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) paid on langar purchases has not found favour with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Durgiana Mandir committee. SGPC secretary Diljit Singh Bedi said keeping in view the terms and conditions requisite for reimbursement, there was little scope for getting compensation against the amount that was spent on langar.
Echoing similar views, Durgiana committee president Ramesh Sharma said the process of refund needed to be simplified and expanded on all items purchased for langar if the government intended to help religious institutions. The langar budget at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, in Bathinda, has jumped by around Rs 10 crore in the past year after the GST regime.
Bedi said on the face of it, the financial aid offered by the Centre under the ‘Seva Bhoj Yojana’ appeared to be sound but there were many hiccups to fulfil its conditions. He said the GST exemption should be implemented on the basis of the old pattern of VAT exemption on langar purchase.Under the scheme, the ‘reimbursement’ of the Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) would be applicable only on purchase of ‘specific items’ for the distribution of ‘free food’.
Only six items — ghee, edible oil, sugar, rice, flour and pulses — come under the ambit of the ‘refund’ claim. On the other hand, the Durgiana committee is bearing a burden of Rs 70 lakh as GST on langar and offerings at the temple. President Ramesh Sharma said the scheme was hardly lucrative. “It is a cumbersome exercise to maintain separate audit reports of free food purchase. The application for reimbursements has to be submitted on a quarterly basis in a specified form with invoice issued by suppliers. Then, the GST authorities will verify it. Besides, there are several items which are used under the traditions of ‘chhappan bhog’ like preparations from ‘namkeen’ and sweets. There’s no clarity whether these items will come under the ambit of refund claim or not,” he said.