The GST Council will meet on May 28 and is likely to discuss tax rates on Covid-related drugs, oxygen equipment and vaccines. They will also discuss the compensation mechanism for states to cover the anticipated shortfall in revenues in the current fiscal.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the 43rd GST Council meeting via video conferencing on May 28, 2021. “The meeting will be attended by minister of state Anurag Thakur, besides the finance ministers of states & Union Territories and senior officers from the Union government & states,” the office of Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted.

                   

                         

In a letter to Sitharaman earlier this week, Mitra had urged the Centre to convene a meeting to discuss enhanced compensation to the states in the wake of the second wave of the pandemic that has triggered partial lockdowns and other restrictions.

The meeting of the Council is supposed to take place at least once every quarter of a financial year. However, the panel has not met since October 5 last year.

Finance ministry officials have attributed the delay to elections in key states.

Congress working president Sonia Gandhi had last month demanded that all life-saving drugs, equipment and instruments required to treat Covid-19 patients must be exempted from the GST.

Sitharaman had, however, ruled out exempting Covid vaccines, medicines and oxygen concentrators from the GST, saying such an exemption will make the lifesaving items more costly for consumers as manufacturers will not be able to offset the taxes paid on inputs.

At present, domestic supplies and commercial imports of vaccines attract a 5 per cent GST, while Covid drugs and oxygen concentrators attract a 12 per cent levy.