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GST Council meet: Priyanka Gandhi demands wave off of GST on Covid relief material

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New Delhi, May 28: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday urged the Centre to remove GST on all life-saving medicines and equipment being used in the fight against COVID-19, asserting that charging tax on such items amid the pandemic amounts to "cruelty".

Priyanka Gandhi

Her appeal to the government came ahead of the GST Council meeting, which decides on taxes on goods and services, later on Friday.

Recovering GST on COVID-related products from people who struggled for ambulances, beds, ventilators, oxygen, medicines, vaccines during the pandemic amounts to "cruelty and insensitivity", Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

"Today, in the GST Council, the government should remove GST on all life-saving medicines and equipment being used in the fight against COVID," the Congress general secretary said.

She also attached a list of items being commonly used in the fight against coronavirus and the rate of GST charged on them.

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The GST Council, in its upcoming meeting, is likely to take a call on levy of 12 per cent tax on import of oxygen concentrators for personal use.

Tax experts said that the Council may decide to exempt IGST on such imports as the revenue implications would not be much.

Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner, EY, said, the government had already provided exemption from IGST on free import of oxygen concentrators for COVID relief by any state government or any agency authorised by the state government.

The Centre had earlier ruled out exempting COVID vaccines, medicines and oxygen concentrators from levy of GST tax saying such an exemption will make the lifesaving items costlier for consumers as manufacturers will not be able to offset the taxes paid on inputs.

Currently, domestic supplies and commercial imports of vaccines attract a 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST), while COVID drugs and oxygen concentrators attract a 12 per cent levy.

The government had on May 1 slashed IGST rate to 12 per cent, from 28 per cent, for import of concentrators for personal use. The reduced rate would be applicable up to June 30.

IGST rate on import of oxygen concentrator for commercial use too is taxed at 12 per cent.

Under Goods and Services Tax (GST), the tax levied on consumption of goods or rendering of service is split 50:50 between the Centre and the state. Such tax is known as Central-GST or CGST and State-GST or SGST.

On inter-state movement of goods as well as imports, an Integrated-GST or IGST is levied, which accrues to the Centre. The amount paid as IGST can be utilised by businesses for claiming credit while making CGST or SGST payments at the time of actual sale.

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