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Expand GST waiver, urges Punjab Finance Minister

Manpreet Singh Badal, Punjab Finance Minister. File  

Punjab’s Finance and Planning Minister Manpreet Singh Badal questioned the GST Council’s decision to temporarily cut tax rates on COVID-19 essentials instead of waiving them altogether and asked if COVID-19 is going to end in sync with the tax concession deadlines.

Demanding that all COVID-related goods be zero-rated during the pandemic, Mr. Badal, along with other Finance Ministers representing the Congress, vehemently opposed the imposition of GST on COVID-related items and recorded their note of dissent.

 

He also reiterated the Congress’ concerns about no representative from the party being included in the GST Council’s Group of Ministers (GoM) that reviewed the tax rates on COVID-19 essentials. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed the charge saying that GoM members are not selected or excluded on the basis of ‘party’.

The GoM should “stop acting like a shahenshah (emperor) amid a once in a century crisis”, Mr. Badal said.

“COVID-19 GST should be zero-rated… How would a consumer feel seeing GST reflected on an invoice on COVID-19 treatment?” he remarked, terming the retention of GST levies on several preventive material and treatment essentials as “insensitive”. While the Council exempted two medicines — tocilizumab and amphotericin-B — from GST altogether, other medicines and goods such as masks, PPE kits, hand sanitisers as well as medical grade oxygen, testing kits, ventilators, biPAP machines and pulse oximeters continue to be taxed at a lower 5% rate.

 

“Stop collecting revenues on furnaces for crematoriums. Stop taxing RT-PCR machines. They are already purchased at concessional rate, and practically all States also regulate the price of the COVID-19 test,” he pointed out.

“It is preposterous that the principal opposition party of India in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha has been excluded in the GoM,” Mr. Badal said.

Mr. Badal cautioned that the attempt to pick and choose exemptions on the grounds of inverted duty structure or cheaper imports would end up destroying the very foundation of GST.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 5:23:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/punjab-finance-minister-slams-continued-gst-on-covid-related-material/article34797901.ece

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