The Congress today said it would again raise the issue of imposition of tax on individual food items procured for preparation of ‘langar’ (free food) in Golden Temple at the meeting of the GST Council tomorrow. Raising concerns over the issue, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said no tax had been imposed on items used for ‘langar’ in the last 350 years ever since the Golden Temple came into existence. “Punjab had raised the issue of imposing a tax on ‘Darbar Sahib’ (golden temple) in the last meeting of GST Council also and will again raise it tomorrow. “The issue is not of paying taxes, but you should understand that the Golden Temple came into existence 350 years ago and no regime, be it of the British, the Afghans or the Turks, imposed any such tax on ‘Darbar Sahib langar’,” he told reporters.
“The Golden temple did not hesitate from paying taxes but the objection was to the idea of taxing the free food,” Badal said. Free food is served to everyone at the community kitchens run inside the Golden Temple which is the highest sacred place for Sikhs.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said earlier that free food supplied at community kitchens run by religious institutions like the golden temple has been kept outside the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). He, however, said individual items like sugar, vegetable edible oils, ghee, butter and service for transportation of these goods used for free food cannot be exempted from tax, as “end use-based exemptions or concessions are difficult to administer” under GST regime.