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COVID-19 relief, Black Fungus drug imports exempted from IGST till Aug 31: FM

In light of the rising Black Fungus cases in the country, Amphotericin-B has also been included in the exemptions list. This decision was taken during the 43rd GST Council meeting

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Friday that the GST Council has exempted COVID-19 relief imports from IGST till August 31, 2021. In light of the rising Black Fungus cases in the country, Amphotericin-B has also been included in the exemptions list. This decision was taken during the 43rd GST Council meeting.

"Issues of COVID-related equipment was one of the items on the agenda that had a very detailed discussion. Several issues within it were raised & discussed....The Council has decided to exempt the import of relief items till August 31, 2021," said Sitharaman at a press conference after the 43rd GST Council meeting on Friday.

She added that exemption will apply to COVID-19 relief items "even if they are purchased, are meant for donating to the government or on the recommendation of the state authority to any relief agency".

"So far the IGST exemption was available only when you were importing free of cost. This exemption has also been extended till August 31, 2021," the Finance Minister explained. These goods are already exempted from basic customs duty

"Due to rising cases of Black Fungus, the particular medicine which is required for it called Amphotericin-B has also been included in the exemptions list," she added.

Sitharamn explained that the rates of these exemption provided were all very clearly discussed in the GST Council meeting. The Finance Minister had announced that a Group of Minister (GoM) will be formed to look into the need for further relief to COVID-19 related individual items.  

Further relief in individual COVID-19 relief items will be announced after the GoM submits the report on June 8, 2021. The GoM is expected to be constituted tomorrow i.e May 29.

Giving his view on the GST Council announcements, Rajat Bose, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co., said, "There was no major announcements post the council meeting. The issue of GST reduction on Covid items has been deferred by a few more days which is dissapointing.""In the backdrop of rising pressure from States to address the need for lowering of GST rate on COVID related medicines and equipment, the GST Council has taken a decision to set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) to review the proposition and come back with their recommendation in 10 days. This seems like a missed opportunity as even a middle path of reducing the GST rate to 5 per cent, even on an interim basis, instead of a complete exemption might have been beneficial to many," said Mahesh Jaising, Partner, Deloitte India.

"To support the LympahticFilarisis (an endemic) elimination programme being conducted in collaboration with WHO, the GST rate on Diethylcarbamazine (DEC) tablets has been recommended for reduction to 5 per cent from 12 per cent," read a government press release.

The Council has recommended certain clarifications/clarificatory amendment in relation to GST rates. "Major ones are leviability of IGST on repair value of goods re-imported after repairs, GST rate of 12 per cent to apply on parts of sprinklers/ drip irrigation systems falling under tariff heading 8424 (nozzle/laterals) to apply even if these goods are sold separately."

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