GST Council to examine the GST rate cut and relief on COVID essentials

The GST Council resolved to form a Group of Ministers (GoM) at its meeting on Friday, 28th May 2021. The GoM was formed after the 43rd GST Council meeting and presented its findings by 8th June 2021.

The GoM is formed to examine GST rates on the COVID necessities, including vaccinations, medications, hand sanitisers, masks, PPE kits, and oxygen-related equipment. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma leads the eight-member ministerial panel. He will closely work with the panel to see if there is a need to exclude or reduce the rate of GST on these crucial life-saving items.

Currently, locally manufactured vaccinations are subject to a 5% GST, while COVID-19 medicines and oxygen concentrators are subject to a 12% GST. A Group of Ministers (GoM) has been formed to investigate the subject of GST concession/exemption to COVID relief material, as per the GST Council’s resolution at its 43rd meeting,” the Finance Ministry quoted. The Fitment Committee is not favouring the GST Rate reduction on these COVID treating medicines and equipment. Further, it stated that so far, there is no particular drug meant to cure COVID-19, and GST paid would accrue to the Centre and states who are procuring the vaccines.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel, Goa Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho, Odisha Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari, Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal, Telangana Finance Minister T Harish Rao, and Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister Suresh Kr Khanna are the GoM members.

The GoM’s Office memorandum states that it will look into medical grade oxygen, pulse oximeters, hand sanitisers, oxygen therapy equipment such as concentrators, ventilators, PPE kits, N-95 and surgical masks and temperature checking equipment deserve a GST rate cut or exemption. The panel would also examine COVID vaccinations, pharmaceuticals and medicines for the treatment of COVID-19, including COVID detection testing kits.

The GST Council left rates on COVID-19 vaccinations and medical supplies intact on Friday. The Centre and Opposition-ruled states clashed over whether the tax cuts would assist the average person. Opposition-ruled states have demanded a tax cut, but the federal government believes the measure will not substantially benefit the public.

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