Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Finance Minister, presided over the 43rd GST council meeting on May 28, straight after nearly eight months. The meeting was attended by the Minister of State (MoS) Anurag Thakur, along with other senior officials.
GST Council is the apex body that takes decisions on issues of threshold limit for applicability of the tax and the limit for dual control between Centre and States. States are continuously working to effectively manage and control the havoc caused by the second wave of coronavirus. The Finance minister took the corona crisis into account while informing her decisions.
The Finance Minister said the council made a decision to exempt covid related items like vaccines, oxygen concentrators, oxygen storage and transportation equipment, and some diagnostic test kits from Integrated Goods and service tax (IGST). She said this decision is taken so that the benefits will ultimately be passed to the end-user.
As the cases of black fungus in the states are surging, the drug called Amphotericin-B used for the treatment of mucormycosis is also exempted.
Many industry players were anticipating the GST council meeting to seek relief from the government.
FM Sitharaman said that taxpayers can file their unresolved returns and take benefits of the Amnesty scheme with reduced late fees. Late fees have been rationalized to provide long-term benefits to small taxpayers. The council approved an amnesty scheme for small taxpayers. Addressing Vaccines for COVID-19 she said about ₹4,500 crores was paid to two Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers, as advance payment. Global vaccine suppliers and manufacturers are taken into consideration for the supply of vaccines.
It is roughly calculated that the Centre will have to borrow ₹1.58 Lakh crore and pass it on to the states.
Finance minister said that she has decided and announced in Council that a Group of Ministers (GoM) will be formed quickly who will submit their report within 10 days or before 8 June, for any further reductions which need to be done, in the sense that rates will be decided by them.
After the GST council meeting, Sitharaman briefed the press on another stimulus package. Due to the curbs on the economy amid the second wave of Coronavirus, various sectors faced a setback. Nirmala Sitharaman said that the central government has asked states to provide inputs on the impact of lockdown.