It appears that GST has not spared even the village temples in Tamil Nadu, especially when it comes to utilising funds for renovation. Many village temples saw bright prospects in taking up renovation work when the fund was doubled from the earlier sum of Rs 50,000. But they are in a quandary now as they have to pay State GST of 6 per cent and a CGST of 6 per cent from out of Rs 1 lakh renovation fund they receive from the government.
“The village temple pays about Rs 12,000 as total GST, and in addition pay one percent i.e. Rs 1,000 for Construction Workers Welfare Fund. For instance, a temple which receives Rs 1 lakh as funds for renovation ends up paying Rs 20,000 by way of taxes and will be constrained to take up work only with the remaining funds,” claims P. Vasu, state president of Kovil Poosarikal Nala Sangam (Temple Priests Welfare Association).
In the past, when a temple obtained Rs 50,000, the temple authorities utilised the entire sum for renovation, but with the change in situation post-GST, the temples are dismayed at losing a chunk of the funds by way of GST and other taxes. This peculiar situation, however, does not persist for ‘big’ temples, which receive donations from philanthropists.
“Hence, we request the State government to either bear the taxes and ensure the temples receive the Rs 1 lakh in full or waive off the GST and other cess,” Mr Vasu said. The Village Temple Renovation Fund was created for providing financial assistance to small village temples under the control of the department for renovation.
A corpus of Rs 2 crore was created by diversion from the surplus fund of Arulmigu Dandayuthapaniswamy Temple, Palani. From the interest obtained from the corpus, Rs 25,000 was disbursed to each village temple. During 2012-2013, former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa ordered its enhancement to Rs 50,000 and again doubled it (to Rs 1,00,000 for each temple). For 2016-2017 fiscal, Rs 5 crore was disbursed to renovate 500 village temples under this scheme.