Govt to pull back 16 exemptions stretched out to Sai Trust

Sathya Sai Baba
Hyderabad, Jun 24: The Andhra Pradesh government has made up its mind to withdraw 16 exemptions that the trust was given to carry out its educational, philanthropic and charitable activities, said Kiran Kumar Reddy, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh.

The decision came after the Chief Minister's elaborated discussions with Finance and revenue department officials and chief secretary.

According to the Chief Minister, the step was taken for transparency in the running of the trust and its activities. He further added that the decision will not hamper the activities of the trust like running universities, hospitals etc.

"The exercise is meant to bring about more transparency while not restricting the various activities of the trust including the running of hospitals, university and other missions," said a senior official.

There were 16 exemptions granted to the Sathya Sai University, the Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Sathya Sai Seva Organisation, Sathya Sai Central Trust, Sai Sadhana Samithi and music divisions, Super Speciality hospitals, International Sathya Sai Organisation and Radio-Sai.

The exemptions that were held out in the past that included imposing no Value Added Tax (VAT), commercial tax, building charges, customs and import fee for medical equipments, registration fees etc will continue to be like it was before, said the Chief Minister.

"Our focus is to bring about more transparency in the working of the trust and its various bodies. Therefore, various exemptions granted to the trust under the Hindu Temples and Trusts Act, 1987, will be withdrawn," said sources.

Section 154 of the said act says at least once in three years every trust should register its income and consumption report with the state government. The exemption under the section 59 of the act allows the trust to not give out its details about the property and assets of different trusts.

Similarly, the exemption under section 59, 60, 61 and 65 of the Act permitted the trust not to toy with the yearly audit by the government, submission of yearly loss or profit account, supervision by deputy collector rank officer.

The exemption under sections 79 and 80 gave the trust the authority to sell its land, intellectual property, property, film and music production without acknowledging the government or without standing by the need to pass through the supervisory system of the government. All these exemptions will now be removed, said sources.

"On the request of the trust, the Congress government headed by chief minister J Vengala Rao had granted the Sai Trust these exemptions under the Hindu Temples and Trusts Act in the mid-70s. Since then, the Sai Trust has not been answerable to the state at all. The only report that the trust is submitting annually is the foreign donation figure to the Union home ministry, which is a pittance of the total money and assets it generates every year," sources added.

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