The opposition AAP on Saturday hit out at the Congress-led Punjab government and the SAD for “politicising” GST imposition on ‘langar sewa’, and said such services in all religions should be kept out of the ambit of taxation. It also sought GST exemption for charitable societies like ‘Pingalwara’ (house for destitutes), orphanages and old age homes, while demanding for the formation of Punjab Vidhan Sabha committee to identify such places to push for tax exemption.
“Besides exempting ‘langar’ (Sikh community kitchen) served in Darbar Sahib, the langar sewa performed in all faiths — Hindu, Christians, Muslims and even Dalits — should also be exempted from GST,” AAP MLA and newly-appointed Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Khaira, told reporters in Chandigarh.
“Several meetings for implementation of GST had been held for more than a year. Both the past (Akali minister Parminder Dhindsa) and present (Manpreet Badal) finance ministers, who participated in these meetings as members, never raised this issue.
“Can they show on record that they raised the matter (of GST on langar) in these meetings? Everybody is trying to gain cheap publicity out of this issue,” Khaira alleged.
“She can raise this issue with FM Arun Jaitley in Delhi and get the exemption,” he said.
Khaira also asked the Punjab government to come forward and bear the tax burden on account of the GST on langar.
“If Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is really concerned about this issue, the state government should bear the (tax) burden. I also urge the CM to form a committee of Vidhan Sabha to identify places where GST exemption is required,” he said.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has projected an extra financial burden of Rs 10 crore per year due to the imposition of the new tax regime on food items used for the community kitchen.
Khaira also dismissed news of factionalism in the state unit of the party.
He said the AAP MLAs will shortly meet Justice J S Narang, who has been appointed to look into allegations of impropriety against cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh, in a multi-crore sand mining auction case.
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