STATE TIMES NEWS
New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will on Saturday chair the meeting of the GST Council, which is expected to decide on tax relief for COVID-19 essentials and black fungus medicine.The 44th GST Council meeting will be attended by Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, besides finance ministers of states and Union territories and senior officers from Union government and states, the Union finance ministry tweeted on Friday.The Council will discuss the report of the Group of Ministers, headed by Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, on GST concessions on COVID-19 relief items like medical grade oxygen, pulse oximeters, hand sanitisers and ventilators, among others.Besides, GoM also looked into vaccines, drugs and medicines for COVID-19 treatment and testing kits for its detection.Some state finance ministers in the GoM are understood to have pitched for a rate cut on COVID-19 essentials.UP Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna, who is also a member of the GoM, had on Wednesday said the state is in favour of cutting taxes on COVID-19 essentials to facilitate patients, but will accept the decision of the GST Council on tax rates.The GST Council in its previous meeting on May 28 left taxes on COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies unchanged after the BJP- and Opposition-ruled states sparred over whether the tax cut benefits will reach the common man. The GoM was set up to recommend rates for COVID-19 essentials.The Congress party- and other Opposition-ruled states have been demanding a reduction in taxes but the central government felt the move may not result in tangible gains for people.Currently, 5 per cent GST is levied on domestically manufactured vaccines, while it is 12 per cent for COVID-19 drugs and oxygen concentrators.In the meeting on May 28, GST was exempted on import of Amphotericin B, a medicine used for the treatment of black fungus.
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