Following the request of Andhra Pradesh government, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council has decided to exempt prasadam and human hair at the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) from tax.
Addressing the 17th GST Council meeting held in New Delhi, AP Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu was quoted saying that as the TTD is a reputed religious trust involved in services to lakhs of devotees every day it should be exempted from GST registration.
According to The Hindu, the Council has also reduced the originally proposed GST rates on agarbathis, biogas and cashew nut from 12% to 5%.
This move came after, TTD requested the Centre to exempt the ingredients that it purchases for making laddus and other prasadams from GST.
The New Indian Express report earlier said that the TTD had also requested that items used for pooja and serving pilgrims at choultries, guest houses, besides the sale of human hair and other revenue sources of the temple board also be exempt from tax.
TTD had already been granted immunity under VAT by the state government.
The accounts department of the TTD had earlier estimated that the annual additional burden on the TTD would have been Rs. 70 crore if GST was imposed.
The TTD governs the Lord Venkateswara temple, which is the richest Hindu temple in the world.
Located in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, the temple receives 60,000-80,000 people every day, and has been managed by hundreds of officials and priests.
The figure even crosses a lakh during summer vacations and on special occasions.
In April this year, the temple reportedly earned Rs 1,038 crore through cash offerings from devotees in 2016-17.
With nearly 2.68 crore devotees visiting the shrine during the financial year, the TTD said that a total of 10.46 crore laddus were sold during this time.
It has approved an annual budget of Rs 2,858 crore for 2017-18.