Senior SAD leader and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has urged the prime minister (PM) to waive GST on ingredients used to make 'langars' in Gurdwaras.
In her April 26 letter to the PM, Harsimrat said she hopes that the religious institutions serving free 'langar' will be exempted from the central Goods and Services Tax (GST).
"I have also submitted to you (the PM) a mechanism in this regard that addresses the concerns of the revenue department against misuse of such exemption to the religious institutions (Gurdwaras)," the Union Food Processing Industries Minister said.
The Bathinda MP mentioned in her letter that the Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar, runs the world's largest mega kitchen, offering free meals throughout the year to lakhs of people, the donation for which comes from the humble offerings of devotees.
This is spent on distributing free langar, she said.
"Currently, procurement for langar items like desi ghee, milk powder, oil, sugar, cylinder... and many other items attract GST of up to 18 per cent. Most humbly, I request that the Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) may not be burdened with GST for providing free langar to one and all.
"I, as a minister representing the Sikh community in the cabinet, would be failing in my duty if I don't apprise you that this has hurt the sentiments of Sikhs worldwide and this is the most important issue that needs to be addressed without delay," Harsimrat said in her letter.
Earlier, the minister had also written to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on this issue.
In March, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab had decided to waive its share of the GST imposed on purchases made for 'langar' (community kitchen) at the Golden Temple.
Punjab's Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal had told the state assembly here in March that the share of GST on purchases for 'langar' in the Golden Temple was in a 50:50 share for the Centre and the state.
As the Punjab government decided to waive its share, Manpreet had asked the SAD whether it would press the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to waive the central government's share as well.