A Group of Ministers (GoM) has been set up to study the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates applicable on COVID-19-related materials, the Union Ministry of Finance said on May 29.
The high-powered group includes finance ministers of eight states - Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who also holds the state's finance portfolio, has been announced as the group's convenor.
The GoM was constituted a day after the 43rd GST Council meeting was chaired by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Since the Centre and the states could not arrive at a consensus on the GST rates for essential COVID-related items, Sitharaman said that a ministerial group would decide on the issue by June 8.
The items whose GST rates would be examined by the group include medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, N95 masks, ventilators, certain diagnostic markers test kits and COVID-19 vaccines.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
As a follow up of the decision of the GST Council at its 43rd meeting, a Group of Ministers (GoM) has been constituted to examine the issue of GST concession/exemption to COVID relief material.
✅GoM to submit its report by June 08, 2021.#IndiaFightsCorona #Unite2FightCorona pic.twitter.com/Qn1N2IEvIw
— Ministry of Finance (@FinMinIndia) May 29, 2021
Most of the COVID-19-related items whose rates would be examined by the GoM attract a GST of 12 percent, except for vaccines which attract a tax of five percent. Ahead of the GST Council meeting, a number of opposition-ruled states had called for a complete waiver of the taxes in view of the pandemic.