The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council will meet on Saturday to consider the recommendations of a group of ministers (GOM) to reduce taxes on most Covid-19 medicines and materials to give relief to the people, a government source said.
The GOM, led by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma, is learnt to have recommended reduction of the GST rate temporarily to 5% for most of the Covid medicines and materials except vaccines.
On Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh finance minister Suresh Kumar Khanna said that his state government was also in favour of a reduction in GST rates on Covid-19 medicines and essentials. Khanna is one of the members of the GOM.
At present oxygen concentrators, medical grade oxygen, pulse oximeters and Covid testing kits attract 12% GST on commercial imports and domestic supplies. Ventilators and a slew of medicines for Covid including Remdesivir, Doxycycline, Ivermectin, Faviflu and Tocilizumab attract 12% GST. GST is 18% on RT-PCR machines, protective garments, digital thermometers, laboratory sanitizers/disinfectants, paper bed sheets and road transport tanks. The GST rate is 5% on N95 mask/surgical masks.
“Many goods suffer BCD (basic customs duty) ranging up to 20% and I-GST up to 18% besides a social welfare surcharge @10%. As IGST is charged on taxable value that includes import duties, the effective burden exceeds by another 2-3%,” Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal had written to union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking relief ahead of the last GST Council meeting on May 28.
Supporting Badal’s view, West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra had written to the Union finance minister recently, batting for zero-rated-tax on Covid related items at least for a fixed period of time or taxing them minimally at 0.1% to avoid any implementation hurdles.