New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: In a big relief to lakhs of salaried class people across the country amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday waived off tax on COVID-19 essential items, including facemasks, medicines and PPE kits. The decision was made at the 44th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council that was also attended by Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and finance ministers and officials of several states and union territories (UTs).

Addressing a press conference, Sitharaman announced that the GST on Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B has been removed while the rate on Remdesivir anti-coagulants has been reduced to five per cent from 12 per cent. She further said that GST on electric furnaces and temperature checking equipment is lowered to five per cent while on ambulances it is 12 per cent.

The Finance Minister further said that the five per cent GST on vaccines will continue, adding that the Centre will buy the 75 per cent vaccine as announced and "will pay its taxes too". She said, however, that 70 per cent of income from GST will be shared with the states and the UTs.

"GST rates have been decided for 4 categories of products- medicines, oxygen, oxygen-generation equipment, testing kits and other machines and other COVID19 related relief material. Rates to be announced soon," Sitharaman was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Sitharaman on Saturday chaired the 44th meeting of the GST Council. In her last meet on May 28, 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 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.

As regards individual items, the GST Council decided to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) "to go into the need for further relief to COVID-19 related individual items immediately".

The Council 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.

(With inputs from ANI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma