Can’t equate ‘serais’ with hotels, guest houses: SGPC
Amritsar, August 2
The imposition of GST (Goods and Service Tax) on SGPC-run ‘serais’ has not only made the SGPC fume, but has also invited the ire of outstation devotees visiting the Golden Temple as ultimately, it will hit their pocket.
Devotees upset over hiked price
Prabhjit Singh, a staffer at Sri Guru Gobind Singh NRI Niwas, said that till July 17, devotees were charged Rs 700 per day, but from July 18, the charges had been escalated to Rs 784, including 12 per cent GST.
As per the fresh notification of the Ministry of Finance dated July 13, all religious inns will come under the ambit of 12 per cent GST along with hotels, guest houses, clubs or other commercial units meant for lodging purpose.
The SGPC has been directed to collect central tax on the charges being taken against accommodation at three of its ‘serais’ — Baba Deep Singh Yatri Niwas, Mata Bhag Kaur Niwas and Sri Guru Gobind Singh NRI Niwas.
The SGPC’s additional secretary Partap Singh said that 12 per cent GST was being realised since July 18 from the devotees who take accommodation in these three ‘serais’ located outside the premises of the Golden Temple complex as per the government notification.
“But it is not fair. How can the inns be equated with hotels and guest houses? Though it was quite embarrassing for our staffers to tell the devotees to pay tax on their stay, they were helpless. We will approach the Prime Minister to review it keeping in view that the inns were set up for the convenience of pilgrims visiting from far-off places and never a profit-making venture,” he said.
Prabhjit Singh, a staffer at NRI niwas, said that till July 17, devotees were charged Rs 700 per day, but from July 18, the charges have been escalated to Rs 784, including 12 per cent GST.
A devotee, Surinder Singh, who came from Raebareli (UP) criticised the Centre for making the stay in inns taxable.
“As if it was not enough that common people are bearing the brunt of inflation, the Modi government has imposed tax on ‘serais’. Devotees from far-off places pay through their nose to manage travel fare. Burdening them further over their stay at ‘serais’ cannot be justified,” he said.
Gurcharan Singh Chhabra and Gurdeep Singh Chhabra, both from Hyderabad, and Darshan Singh from Madhya Pradesh said that pilgrims travel long distances for their devotion and stay at ‘serais’ which offer them affordable accommodation. Pilgrimages are not an excursion that has to be taxed. The Centre should roll it back, they said.