Punjab FM seeks zero tax on Covid-related items

Punjab FM seeks zero tax on Covid-related items
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Chandigarh: Seeking zero tax on Covid-related items, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal on Saturday said the GST Council should stop acting like a ruler of yesteryears , according to a statement.

The other alternative is to charge 0.1 per cent, which is well within the powers of the GST Council, and this measure should be in place till the pandemic is over, he stated.

"Don't end COVID-19 exemptions in August 2021, said Badal in the statement here, adding that he along with other finance ministers representing the Congress opposed the imposition of the GST on COVID-related items.

At the 44th meeting of the GST Council, the Badal urged the Centre to include representatives of the Congress in the Group of Ministers (GOM).

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, Badal said.

The Punjab FM also asked the chairperson to operationalise the position of vice-chairperson of the GST Council.

Further, the GST council must have its own secretariat and it should be empowered to adjudicate on a dispute resolution mechanism where there are divergent views, he said.

He regretted that the GoM is not acting with compassion and it is parroting the Union government, perhaps out of the fear that they may not be included from a future GoM.

Badal reminded the GoM that health care services, including all recognised systems of medicine are already exempt under the GST.

The imposition of GST on vaccines and other items like masks, PPEs, hand sanitisers, medical grade oxygen, testing kits, ventilators and others reflect an insensitiveness and lack of compassion, the minister said in the statement.