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GST Council meet today; tax cut on COVID essentials, black fungus medicine on agenda

The GST Council is expected to take a decision on tax relief for COVID essentials and black fungus medicine based on the GoM's (Group of Ministers) report

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the 44th GST Council meet on Saturday Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the 44th GST Council meet on Saturday

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will preside over the 44th GST Council meeting via video conferencing on Saturday.

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, finance ministers of states and Union territories, and senior officers from Union government and states will attend the GST meet, the Union Finance Ministry tweeted on Friday.

The GST Council is expected to take a decision on tax relief for COVID essentials and black fungus medicine based on the GoM's (Group of Ministers) report.

Also Read: GoM recommends 5% reduction on GST for COVID-19 relief material

The GoM, headed by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, was set up by the GST Council in its meeting on May 28. It was tasked to submit its report on the need for exempting GST or cutting rate on COVID essentials such as masks, drugs, vaccines, PPE kits, hand sanitisers, and oxygen-related equipment. The said report will be discussed in the Council meeting on Saturday.

In addition, 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.

Also Read: GST Council meeting on June 12 to decide tax on COVID-19 vaccine

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.

At the meeting on May 28, GST was exempted on import of Amphotericin B, a medicine used for the treatment of black fungus.