Business / What changes in GST rates have been announced for goods being used in COVID-19 relief?

Zoom News : Jun 13, 2021, 06:30 AM
New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced today that Covid vaccines will continue to attract Goods and Services Tax at 5 per cent. However, medication to treat mucormycosis, widely known as black fungus, will not be taxed under the indirect tax regime. GST rate for Remdesivir has been reduced from earlier 12 per cent to 5 per cent.

The announcements came at the press conference following the 44th GST Council meeting on Saturday. Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and finance minister from states and union territories also participated in the meeting. In its meeting today, the council deliberated over recommendations from a Group of Ministers (GoM), formed in its previous meeting, regarding changes in GST rates for Covid-related items.

Based on the GoM's recommendations, tax on ambulances has been brought down from the highest slab of 28 per cent to 12 per cent. Tax rates for oxygen, oxygen generation devices and related medical devices has also been brought down.

These reduced rates will remain in effect will August 31, 2021, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Here's a detailed look at what Covid-related items became cheaper after GST Council meeting today:

Covid vaccines

Despite strong demand for it, the GoM did not recommend any changes in the tax rates for Covid-19 vaccines. The jabs will continue to be taxed under GST regime at 5 per cent.

Covid, black fungus medicines

Remdesivir, which grew in popularity over the past few months after being given emergency use authorisation for treatment of Covid patients, will now be at 5 per cent instead of the earlier 12 per cent. In a recent advisory, health authorities have called for cautious use of the injection as it can have potential side effects and is relatively costlier too.

For Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B, which are used for treating black fungus, GST rates have been waived off completely from the earlier 5 per cent. Meanwhile, anti-coagulants like Heparin will be taxed at 5 per cent now instead of 12 per cent.

Any other drug recommended by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) for Covid treatment will be taxed at 5 per cent.

Oxygen, oxygen generation equipment and related medical devices

Medical grade oxygen has been in high demand since the second wave of Covid infections swept the country. This crucial gas will now be taxed at 5 per cent instead of 12 per cent.

Oxygen concentrator or generator, including personal imports thereof, ventilators, ventilator masks, canula or helmet, BiPAP machines, and High Flow Nasal Canula (HFNC) device will also attract 5 per cent tax instead of 12 per cent.

Testing kits and machine

Covid testing kits as well as specified inflammatory diagnostic kits, namely D-Dimer, IL-6, Ferritin and LDH, will now be taxed at 5 per cent instead of the earlier 12 per cent.

Other Covid relief items

Pulse oximeters, even those imported for personal use, will see GST rate of 5 per cent compared to original 12 per cent. Meanwhile, tax rate for hand sanitisers and temperature checking equipment has been reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent.

Gas, electric or other furnaces for crematorium and their installation will see GST charged at 5 per cent instead of earlier 18 per cent. Ambulances has been taken out of the exorbitant 28 per cent tax slab and placed in the comparatively nominal 12 per cent slab.