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Congress on Wednesday attacked the Centre for levying high GST on products crucial in the fight against Covid-19 and sought an exemption for vaccines, Remdesivir and oxygen concentrators.
Urging the government not to seek “opportunities in a disaster”, Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh attacked Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman over her argument that GST exemption on Covid-related medicines and supplies would make them costly.
Vallabh said the government should provide exemption not only on the final product but also on the raw material being used. “If the finance minister is still not clear on this, we urge her to convene a GST council meeting and we can explain how this can be done. Don’t argue for the sake of arguing,” he said.
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He said, “The Congress demands that the Centre exempts all Covid-19 related medical items from GST. Taxes are collected to provide benefits to citizens. When the citizens can benefit directly from GST exemption, why not pass the benefits to them directly?”
Claiming that GST exemptions on vaccine, Remdesivir and oxygen concentrators would save ₹6,000 crore, he said, “This amount can provide us 1.2million oxygen concentrators, vaccines for 200 million people, 120,000 ventilators and 6 AIIMS-like hospitals.”
Apart from the Congress, several other leaders, such as Bengal chief minister Mamata Gandhi, have urged the government to waive off GST on Covid-related medicines and supplies amid the pandemic’s second wave.