After passing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill 2014, the Lok Sabha has also approved an amendment to help all the states in the transition phase by charging an additional tax of 1 per cent on inter-state trade on goods.
After regular imposition of indirect taxes, like excise, service tax, VAT and sales tax, in different sectors by the central and state governments, the pan-India goods and services tax regime has planned to facilitate a common market in the country.
However, the taxes on all the highly consumable products like petroleum, alcohol for human consumption and tobacco have been kept out of the purview of GST.
Taxes collected on alcohol yields a major part of state revenues. Taking an example of Kerala, it contributes 22 per cent of revenue, while in Tamil Nadu, it gives about Rs. 21,000 crore per year.
Transport fuels, like petrol and diesel, are taxed at 20 per cent, whereas states receive 35 per cent of their sales tax revenues from them.
In the wake of the increasing threat of Covid-19, the medical fraternity has asked the government to consider withdrawing GST on hand sanitiser and masks in these ‘difficult times’.
“We understand that certain ingredients (in sanitisers) are taxable, still in these difficult times or at least for next few months, hand sanitisers should not attract GST,” said Sandeep Sharma, President of Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) Delhi branch.
According to Sharma, hospitals, ambulance, nursing and support staff desperately require sanitisers, masks and other protective equipment in 24×7 mode.
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“We require all these items in bulk, but at present we are paying 18 per cent GST on sanitisers and 5 per cent on masks etc. Besides, medical practitioners and public at large also require hand sanitisers and masks as a major preventive measure to keep away from the highly infectious virus. It would be a big relief for people if GST is not levied on these items,” said Sharma, who coordinates with all leading chains of top private hospitals and doctors.
Meanwhile, the President of the Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI), Roy K George, has appealed to all the state governments to ensure urgent and smooth supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), and essential items like masks and sanitisers to serve patients and combat the spread of the infectious disease to the medical staff.
“Our state associations, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, have informed us that adequate supply of PPEs, masks and sanitisers has to be provided to the nurses and other medical staff,” said George, adding, “What happened in Mumbai, where 26 nurses tested positive for Covid-19 in private hospitals, suggest that frontline soldiers of the this war against virus need more attention in terms of equipments and medical kits.”
TNAI, founded in 1908, has 6 lakh nurses as its members, making it one of the largest associations of nurses in the world. It has postponed all its celebrations related to the 200th birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, legendary social reformer and founder of modern nursing.