Health

Exempt COVID-19 vaccines from GST: Naveen

Odisha CM also seeks for states share of cess, surcharges that Centre collects 

 
By Priya Ranjan Sahu
Published: Thursday 06 May 2021
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Source: Flickr

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik May 6, 2021 urged the Union government to give up Goods and Services Tax (GST) on vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to facilitate universal vaccination. He also sought for states a share of the cess and surcharges the Narendra Modi government mops up.

The Centre has asked states to buy their own vaccines for the 18-45 age group, Patnaik pointed out in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. GST only adds to the financial burden of states. Hence, according to the CM:

GST needs to be exempted completely. It will reduce the cost for the states and facilitate our drive towards universal vaccination.

A long and sustained effort was needed to fight COVID-19 and it was important that states were supported so that the entire country can fight as one. Lack of finances should not affect any state affecting the entire country in turn, he added.

Additional resources via cess and surcharges on items like petrol, diesel and liquor, exclusively available to the Centre, must be suitably shared with the state governments at this critical juncture, he demanded. This, the CM said, would strengthen the states’ fight against the pandemic, including provision of vaccines, free treatment, undertaking preventive measures and other related things.

Patnaik said:

It is a war-like situation and all our resources should be focused on winning this war against Corona (sic). This is not going to be a one-time battle. We will have a sustained challenge in this fight against COVID-19 till serious advances are made in treatment and vaccination.

The second wave of COVID-19 in India has been more damaging than the first wave with the virus spreading from cities to rural areas. A record 412,262 new cases and 3,980 deaths were reported in the past 24 hours. India has had more than 21 million and 230,000 deaths, according to the Union health ministry.

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