AMRITSAR: Government of India which is led by the saffron party BJP, is facing backlash for imposing 12 percent GST (Goods and Service Tax) on room booking on sarais of Sachkhand Sri Harmandar Sahib (Darbar Sahib).
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday condemned the Centre for imposing a 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on inns, saying it targets the devotion of pilgrims staying at the ‘sarais’.
“I strongly condemn the central government’s decision of levying 12 per cent GST on ‘sarais’ located near the Golden Temple. This tax has been imposed on the devotion of pilgrims,” he tweeted.
“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, said Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) MP and former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, adding, “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”.
Shiromani Akali Dal Delhi (SADD) president and former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Paramjit Singh Sarna demanded immediate rollback of a 12 percent GST on sarais (pilgrim rest houses) run by the SGPC, reminding the central government and the GST Council that all such facilities for the devotees are part of sewa and not business ventures.
“We are appalled at the decision of imposing a GST on gurdwara sarais,” the Panthak leader said, adding, “The nominal amount those SGPC rest houses charge don’t even cover the basic cost of maintenance, room service, housekeeping, power/water tariffs and laundry. Treating gurdwara sranhs as for-profit business ventures is extremely unreasonable.”
The SADD chief called upon the central government and the GST Council to revisit the decision and exempt gurdwara sarais completely from the GST.
Another former president of the DSGMC Manjit Singh GK took on the Centre for levying this tax terming it as “jazia”, a tax imposed in earlier times on non-Muslims in Muslim countries.
The AAP workers are staging state level protests against the BJP on August 3 in Punjab over this issue.