GST Council exempts import duty on COVID-19 related supplies including drug used in treatment of Mucormycosis till Aug 31

The GST Council has exempted import of Amphotericin B used for treating black fungus from levy of I-GST. Briefing the media after the meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Council had a very detailed discussion on Covid related equipment in its meeting yesterday. Several issues relating to it were raised and discussed.

The Finance Minister said the GST Council has decided to waive I-GST on free COVID-19 related supplies imported from abroad. So far, the IGST exemption was available only when the relief items were being imported free of cost. This exemption has been extended till 31st August.

The Minister said the rates of exemptions were also very clearly discussed and suggestions by the Fitment committee were put before the Council. She said there was a protracted discussion on it with varying viewpoints. A Group of Ministers will be quickly formed which will submit their report on or before 8th June on this issue.

The Finance Minister said 4,500 crore rupees were paid to two vaccine manufacturers as advance payment. She added that the country is engaging with suppliers and manufacturers including from Japan, and European Union for vaccines. She said supply will increase in the coming months.

The Finance Minister also announced an amnesty scheme for small GST taxpayers, allowing filing of returns with reduced late fees. She said one of the biggest decisions taken yesterday is to reduce the compliance burden of small taxpayers and medium-sized taxpayers. Taxpayers can now file their pending returns and avail the benefits of this amnesty scheme with reduced late fees.

Ms Sitharaman added that the GST Council will hold a special session to discuss extending paying compensation to states beyond 2022.

Annual return filing has also been simplified. The Council has recommended amending the CGST Act to allow for self-certification of reconciliation statements, instead of getting it certified by Chartered Accountants. The Annual Return filing will continue to be optional for 2020-21 for small taxpayers, having a turnover of less than  two crore rupees while reconciliation statements for 2020-21 will be furnished only by those taxpayers whose turnover is five  crore rupees or more.