Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is chairing the 44th GST Council Meeting today, via video conferencing. The Council is expected to decide on tax relief for Covid-19 essentials and black fungus medicine, based on the reports submitted to it by the Group of Ministers (GoM).
It is attended by the Minister of state for finance, Anurag Thakur, besides finance ministers of states and Union territories and senior officers from Union government and states.
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 sanitizers, and ventilators, among others.
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 percent GST is levied on domestically manufactured vaccines, while it is 12 percent for Covid-19 drugs and oxygen concentrators.
The GST Council had recommended full exemption from IGST on a number of specified Covid-19 related goods such as medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators, and other oxygen storage and transportation equipment, certain diagnostic markers test kits, and Covid-19 vaccines even if imported on a payment basis for donating to the government or on the recommendation of state authority to any relief agency. The exemption is valid up to August 31 this year.
The Council had also decided to reduce the compliance burden of small taxpayers and medium-sized taxpayers and recommended an amnesty scheme for reducing late fee payable, to provide relief to small taxpayers. The meeting is taking place after the 43rd meeting of the Council on May 28 announced a series of duty concessions on Covid relief items in addition to relaxation of compliance measures for taxpayers.
As the GST Council meeting is still in progress, the press briefing is slightly delayed. The briefing will commence after the GST Council meeting gets over.