GST Council to meet Saturday, discuss tax exemption on Covid-19 essentials

The GST Council is likely to consider the taxation of Covid-19 relief essentials in its next meeting scheduled for June 12. The meeting is expected to deliberate the exemption and concession on Covid-related items, following the recommendation submitted by the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Tuesday.

The GoM recommendation is yet to be made public, but it is learnt that the issue of taxing the vaccine has been sent back to the Council. However, it suggested temporarily reducing the GST rate to 5 per cent on commercial imports & domestic supply of Coronavirus (Covid-19) medicines & material, including medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters & testing kits.

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The GST Council retained levies on COVID-19 vaccinations and medical supplies unchanged at its previous meeting on May 28. The members were unable to agree on the benefits of the tax cuts. The Congress and other Opposition-controlled states had requested a tax cut, but the Centre believes that the tax decrease will not result in substantial benefits for people.

The rate fitment committee, which is made up of indirect tax authorities from the Centre and states, suggested lowering the GST rates on medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, and COVID-19 test kits ahead of the council meeting on May 28. The committee had also suggested keeping the current GST rate of 5% on vaccines.

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Following that, a GoM led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma advised a three-month tax cut on a plethora of COVID-19-related items such as ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, among others.

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, as well as finance ministers from states and union territories and top executives from the Union government and states, would attend the 44th GST Council meeting, according to a tweet from the Union finance ministry on Friday.