Tax on medicines, some hospital equipment and other items needed in the fight against COVID-19 has been reduced by the Goods and Services Tax Council. The tax cut is based on recommendations by a Group of Ministers amid the pandemic, whose crippling effects on the economy has also hurt household finance, the constitutional body that decides rates for the GST has said.

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No tax will be charged for medicines like Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B, used for treating Black Fungus, an opportunistic fungal disease that affects people infected with Covid.

The tax cuts are valid till September 30, and may be extended nearer the deadline.

Covid vaccines continue to be charged a GST of 5 per cent.

There is no change 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.

There is also no tax cut on raw material for Covid testing kits.

Other medicines for which GST has been reduced include anti-coagulants like Heparin (from 12 per cent to 5 per cent), Remdesivir (from 12 per cent to 5 per cent) and any drug recommended by the Health Ministry for Covid treatment (from applicable current rate to 5 per cent).

GST has been slashed from 12 per cent to 5 per cent in these equipment: medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator and generator including personal import, ventilator, ventilator masks, Bipap machine and high-flow nasal canula device.

All Covid testing kits will be charged at 5 per cent GST, from the earlier 12 per cent. Specified inflammatory diagnostic kits like D-Dimer, IL-6, Ferritin and LDH will also be charged at 5 per cent.

She also said that GST on ambulances will be reduced to 12% from 28%. However, Sitharam added that 5% GST on vaccines will stay. The Centre will buy the 75% vaccine as announced and will pay its GST too. But 70% of income from GST will be shared with States.

GST on electric furnaces and temperature checking equipment brought down to 5% and on ambulances to 12%. These rates will be valid till September as against August end recommended by the GoM, Sitharaman said.

At its meeting on May 28, the GST Council had recommended full exemption from IGST on a number of specified COVID-19 related goods such as medical oxygen, oxygen concentrators, and other oxygen storage and transportation equipment, certain diagnostic markers test kits, and COVID-19 vaccines even if imported on payment basis for donating to the government or on the recommendation of state authority to any relief agency.

The exemption is valid up to August 31 this year.

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