July 18, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akalo Dal (Badal) chief and former Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal here today stated that the party’s parliamentarians and state legislative members would meet the union finance minister Arun Jaitley and ask him to reconsider the demand made by SGPC to exempt all purchases made for langar from the scope of GST.
Though the union government is headed by BJP which is an alliance partner of Badal Dal in Punjab even then both the Badal Dal and SGPC controlled by it is finding difficult to get the Langar sewa exempted from the Central government reformed tax policy.
In statement given to the media Sukhbir Badal claimed “we are duty bound to convey the wishes of lakhs of devotees on this issue to the centre. However what needs to be understood is that it is the Congress government which has to get this exemption passed in the GST Council. Under the new GST regime States have a weightage of 66 per cent to influence all decisions in the GST Council vis a vis the centre which has a weightage of only 33 per cent”.
Furthermore, Badal Dal chief maintained though chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had written to the Union finance minister and sought exemption for the SGPC; it would be better if he directed his finance minister Manpreet Badal to get this done in the GST Council. “The Council allows each State to put forward its demands for grant of relief on specific items. However relief can only be granted if the appropriate case is put up before the Council, which has not happened yet in the case of granting exemption for langar’ items.”
The issue of extending exemption to the SGPC was being raised consistently by the SGPC since the last one fortnight, Sukhbir Badal said. Manpreet Badal should have filed a representation before the GST Council till now. “He needs to tell Sikh devotees why he has not taken up the matter in the GST Council in which he represents Punjab? Is it a case of sheer incompetence on his part or is he deliberately not raising the issue because he does not want to extend this exemption? Manpreet Badal should make his stand clear to Sikh devotees so that they could also come to know where he stands on this issue”, he added.
It is notable that despite having his wife Harsimrat Badal as a cabinet minister in the central government instead of vouching for the tax exemption through his wife directly Sukhbir Badal is putting the onus on and holding state finance minister Manpreet Badal responsible for delay in clearing the Langar purchases out of the ambit of GST.
Furthermore, questioning the seriousness of Manpreet Badal the former deputy prime minister stated that if Manpreet Badal was serious was siding with the Sikh community he should asked the GST Council to forfeit the State share in the GST immediately as a first step. “This can be followed up with the demand for complete exemption.
Even a fifty per cent exemption from GST to the SGPC will give it substantial relief as it purchases ‘desi ghee’, sugar, dry milk and pulses to the tune of Rs 75 crore annually. Forfeiture of the State share would halve the GST of Rs 10 crore which is likely to be applicable on SGPC if it does not get any exemption”, he further added to his statement.
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