GST Council to meet on June 12, 2021 to discuss tax on Covid relief materials

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The GST Council will meet on Saturday, June 12, 2021 to consider the taxation issue of Covid relief materials including vaccines.

The meeting is expected to discuss recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM). The council, in its last meeting on May 28, decided to set up a GoM to go into the need for concession/exemptions from GST on Covid-19 related individual items, as there were divergent opinions.

The GoM submitted its report last week. Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma was the Convenor of the group while the Deputy Chief Minister of Gujarat, Nitin Patel, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar, Transport Minister of Goa, Mauvin Godinho, Finance Minister of Kerala, KN Balagopal, Finance Minister of Odisha, Niranjan Pujari, Finance Minister of Telangana, T Harish Rao and Finance Ministry of Uttar Pradesh, Suresh K Khanna are members of the group.

Expectations from GoM recommendations

Although, recommendations of the GoM have not been made public, it is believed that the matter of taxing vaccines has been left to the GST Council while rates on other Covid relief materials such as testing kits for detections, medical-grade oxygen, pulse oximeters, hand sanitisers, oxygen therapy equipment such as concentrators, generators and ventilators, PPE kits, N-95 masks, surgical masks, temperature checking machines have been suggested at 5 percent for a limited period. It also appears that the GoM is in favour of exempting drugs/medicines for the treatment of fungus.

The Council is meeting at a time when the Centre has reworked its vaccine policy. On Monday, Prime Minister Narnendra Modi announced that the Centre itself will buy 75 percent of the total vaccine production from manufacturers and give it to the State governments free of cost. That is, no State government of the country will have to spend anything on vaccines. Earlier, States were permitted to buy 25 per cent of production at negotiated price from the vaccine manufacturers to inoculate the population in the 18-44 years category.

The reworked vaccine policy will kick-in from June 21, 2021.

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