Hold urgent GST meet to cut tax on key medicines,
As the country grapples with a stronger second Covid wave, states want the Centre to
urgently convene a meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council, which has
not met for the last six months. This comes after the chorus for rate cuts on key
medicines and equipment grows louder.
Besides, states also want to discuss extension of the compensation period, under
the GST regime, beyond July 2022 in the council meeting as uncertain times cast a
shadow over state finances.
States are demanding exemption of key Covid drugs like Remdesivir, medical grade
oxygen used in oxygen cylinders, and related supplements, which currently attract 12
per cent tax.
Other decisions piled up include rationalisation of GST rate slabs, correction of inverted
duty on certain items and inclusion of petroleum products, among others.
The law mandates the council to meet at least once a quarter, but the long gap this time
has given rise to apprehensions.
Chhattisgarh health minister, T S Singh Deo, who represents the state at the council,
told Business Standard that the state is going to write to the Centre for GST exemption
on Remdesivir, and related supplements. “We are demanding a GST exemption on
Remdesivir and some other items. But, the GST Council needs to meet for that. It should
certainly have had a virtual meeting,” said Deo.
Amid shortage of the Remdesivir drug across the country, Chhattisgarh has placed an
order for 90,000 Remdesivir injections with pharma major Mylan Laboratories worth Rs
14.11 crore. “We have placed the order with Mylan Laboratories for 90,000 injections at
the rate of Rs 1,400 plus 12 per cent GST. Around 2,000 injections will come in two days
and another 28,000 within a week, which makes it 30,000 injections a week” said Deo.
Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said that states need to discuss
extension of the GST compensation issue beyond July 2022 in the council as economic