New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to chair 43rd GST Council meeting – for the first time in nearly eight months – via video conferencing at 11 am today. The meeting will be attended by Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur. Finance Ministers of States & Union Territories and senior officers from Union Government and the States will also participate in the meeting.
The GST Council is likely to discuss a reduction in the tax rate on Covid essentials like medicines, vaccines and medical equipment as well as means to make up for the shortfall in revenues promised to states.
Ahead of the first meeting of the top decision-making body, finance ministers of eight states – Rajasthan, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Kerala and West Bengal — have devised a joint strategy to press for a zero tax rate on Covid essentials, news agency PTI reported citing sources.
Earlier this month, Sitharaman virtually ruled out exempting Covid vaccines, medicines and oxygen concentrators from GST, 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 GST while COVID drugs and oxygen concentrators attract a 12 per cent levy.
The last 42nd GST council meeting was held on October 5, 2020, in which several key recommendations were made like releasing of compensation to States and further simplifying the GST return filing system to reduce the compliance burden on taxpayers.