GST Council extends relief of medicines, but petroleum still out of bounds

GST Council extends relief of medicines, but petroleum still out of bounds
(File photo: IANS)

Lucknow, Sep 17 (IANS) In a slew of decisions, the GST Council on Friday decided to extend the applicability of concessional rates on Covid-19-related medicines but did not include petroleum products in its kitty.

Briefing the media after the conclusion of the Council's 45th meeting, and the first in a physical format after start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said: "We have taken a few people friendly decisions...."

She said that the applicability of duty exemption and concessional rates for Covid and related medicines have been extended from September 30 till December 31, 2021.

Sitharaman said that the council has granted tax exemption on drugs to treat muscular atrophy imported for personal use only, and reduced the duty on drugs for cancer treatment from 12 per cent to 5 per cent.

On the issue of petrolum products' inclusion under the GST, she said that a majority of members were opposed to the idea at the present stage.

Sitharaman pointed out that the issue was deliberated at the meeting, after it was added to the agenda at the last moment on the back of a Kerala High Court's order.

She said the Council members, however, did not find the current stage as an appropriate time to bring petroleum products under the GST ambit.

It was widely speculated that such a move might be initiated to lower the record high prices of petrol and diesel.

Besides, the Council exempted the IGST on imports of leased aircrafts and on exports of goods by vessel or air till September 30, 2022.

Furthermore, rates on bio-diesel supplied to OMCs to blend with diesel has been reduced to 5 per cent.

However, the Council increased GST on railway parts, locomotives and other goods to 18 from 12 per cent.

Additionally, all kinds of pens and their parts will be taxed at a uniform rate of 18 per cent.