GST Council meeting: No tax for COVID-19, black fungus medicines
The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Saturday decided to waive taxes on select items essential in the fight against COVID-19 such as medicines and certain equipment. The decision was taken after a meeting of the GST Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The move is aimed at providing financial relief as India faces a second wave of COVID-19.
At the 44th GST Council, Sitharaman and other leaders discussed a report on tax concessions for COVID-19-related items submitted by the Group of Ministers headed by Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Conrad Sangma. Several states had previously urged the Centre to consider providing such relief. The tax cuts are valid till September 30, 2021, and may be extended.
The council completely waived the tax on medicines such as Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B (used for treating secondary fungal infections, such as mucormycosis or "black fungus"). For Remdesivir, anti-coagulants like Heparin, and any other drug recommended by the Health Ministry for COVID-19 treatment, the GST rate has been slashed to 5%. A GST rate of 12% was applicable on Remdesivir and anti-coagulants.
Further, the GST has been reduced from 12% to 5% for medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators and generators (including personal imports), ventilators, ventilator masks/canula/helmets, BiPAP machines, and high-flow nasal canula (HFNC) devices. For COVID-19 testing kits, specified inflammatory diagnostic kits (such as D-Dimer, IL-6, Ferritin, and LDH), pulse oximeters (including personal imports), the GST was lowered from 12% to 5%.
Hand sanitizers saw the GST rate reduced from 18% to 5%. A similar reduction has been announced for temperature checking equipment, and gas/electric/other furnaces required for cremations and their installation. The GST was reduced from 28% to 12% for ambulances.
However, a GST of 5% will continue to be applicable on COVID-19 vaccines. No tax cut on raw material for COVID-19 testing kits was announced. There is also no revision in the GST rates for RT-PCR machines, RNA extraction machines, and genome sequencing machines. These items are charged a GST of 18%. Genome sequencing kits will continue to be charged a 12% GST rate.