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GST Council meet on Saturday to discuss tax cut on COVID essentials, black fungus medicine

The all-powerful GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, will meet on June 12 to decide on a GST rate cut for COVID essentials and black fungus medicine, according to officials.

In the previous meeting on May 28, the Council, which has state ministers as members, a Group of Ministers (GoM) was set up to recommend tax relief on COVID essentials, including PPE kits, masks and vaccines, to the GST council.

The GoM submitted its report on June 7. Officials said the GST Council would be meeting on June 12, to discuss the GoM report as well as consider tax rate cuts for black fungus medicine. Some state Finance Ministers in the GoM are understood to have pitched for a rate cut on COVID essentials.

Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna, who is also a member of the GoM, on Wednesday said that the state is in favour of cutting taxes on COVID essentials to facilitate patients, but will accept the decision of the GST council on tax rates.

The GoM on GST concessions on COVID relief items was mandated to examine whether a GST rate cut or exemption is required for medical-grade oxygen, pulse oximeters, hand sanitizers, oxygen therapy equipment like concentrators, ventilators, PPE kits, N-95 and surgical masks and temperature checking equipment.

Besides, the panel also looked into COVID vaccines, drugs, and medicines for COVID treatment and testing kits for COVID detection. The GST Council on May 28, left taxes on COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies unchanged after the BJP and opposition-ruled states sparred over whether the tax cut benefits will reach the common man.

However, Goods and Services Tax (GST) was exempted on the import of Amphotericin B — a medicine used for treatment of black fungus. Congress and other opposition-ruling states have been demanding a reduction in taxes, but the central government felt the move may not result in tangible gains for people.

Currently, 5 per cent GST is levied on domestically manufactured vaccines, while it is 12 per cent for COVID drugs and oxygen concentrators.

 

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