The next GST Council meeting is scheduled to take place on 12th June 2021 (Saturday). The primary agenda is to decide whether or not to reduce the GST rates on COVID-19 detection and fighting essentials such as oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, medical-grade oxygen, and testing kits.
The Group of Ministers (GoM) that was earlier formed for studying this aspect reported their recommendations on 8th June 2021. The GST rates on these essentials can be brought down to 5% from their existing 12% as per the report. The GoM has also suggested a GST rate reduction on PPE kits, ventilators and hand sanitisers to 5% from the current rate of 18%. The panel that comprises the Finance Ministers of eight states also recommended an exemption from GST for drugs used in the treatment of Black Fungus.
The upcoming GST Council meeting shall be in continuation of the 43rd GST Council meeting. It shall also have GST rate reduction or exemption on vaccines as a part of its agenda. Currently, a 5% GST rate is being charged on the vaccines. The GoM has suggested retaining the GST rate on the COVID-19 vaccine at 5% to avoid impending issues related to input tax credit on account of an inverted tax structure. But, several states continue to seek GST exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, equipment and medicines used in its treatment.
COVID-related issues were among the key topics on the 44th GST Council meeting agenda that involved an in-depth deliberation. Union FM Nirmala Sitharaman announced some relief measures after the GST Council meeting on 28th May 2021.
The Council decided to exempt relief items from IGST for their imports until 31st August 2021. The relief is given irrespective of whether these are purchased or donated to the government as per recommendation by any state government to any relief agency. Further, the GST Council exempted imports of Amphotericin B, which is used to treat Black Fungus. It had, however, decided to form a GoM to investigate exemptions for COVID-19 vaccinations and other medicinal items.
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Annapoorna, popularly known as Anna, is an aspiring Chartered Accountant with a flair for GST. She spends most of her day Singing hymns to the tune of jee-es-tee! Well, not most of her day, just now and then.