Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday announced that the GST Council has decided to extend the concessional rates on drugs used in COVID-19 treatment till December 31, 2020. The previous deadline was September 30.
On June 12, the GST Council, chaired by Ms Sitharaman had reduced the tax rates on most of the COVID-19 medicines and equipment and announced that no tax will be levied on the medicines for treating Black Fungus.
The Revenue Department of the Finance Ministry had said that the GST rates are lowered for 18 Covid-related supplies and concessional rates.
The tax cut was based on recommendations by a Group of Ministers amid the pandemic, whose crippling effects on the economy has also hurt household finance, the GST Council – a constitutional body that decides rates for the GST – had said.
The Council had decided that no tax will be levied on medicines like the monoclonal antibody Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B, used for treating Black Fungus, a fungal disease that affects people infected with Covid.B. Earlier, the GST rates on these medicines stood at 5 per cent.
The Council had also cut rates on anti-coagulants such as heparin and Remdesivir – a drug for treating COVID-19, from 12 per cent to 5 per cent.
Additionally, tax rates on gas, electric, other furnaces for the crematorium, including their installation were reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent.
The GST rates on ambulances were reduced from 28 per cent to 12 per cent. The tax rates on hand sanitiser was lowered from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, while rates on temperature check equipment was reduced from 18 per cent to 5 per cent.
Covid vaccines, however, continue to be charged a GST of 5 per cent. There were also no tax cuts on raw material for Covid testing kits.
There were no changes in the GST rate of some items being charged at 18 per cent, such as RT-PCR machines, RNA extraction machines and genome sequencing machines. Genome sequencing kits that are being charged at 12 per cent will continued to be charged at the same rate.