Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 12
Calling the Covid-19 crisis a once-in-a-century calamity, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal today said the GST’s Group of Ministers (GoM) should stop acting like a “shahenshah” of yesteryears and instead let compassion speak through its decisions.
Stating that all Covid-related goods must be zero-rated during the pandemic, he, along with other Finance Ministers representing the Congress, opposed the imposition of GST on Covid-related items. “The other alternative is to charge 0.1 per cent, which is well within the powers of the GST Council, and this measure should be in place till the pandemic is over,” he said.
At the 44th meeting of the GST Council, Badal urged the ruling government to include representatives of the Congress in the GoM. “It is preposterous that the principal Opposition party in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha has been excluded from the GoM,” he said.
He also urged the Chairperson to operationalise the position of Vice-Chairperson of the GST Council. “It should also have its own secretariat and it should be empowered to adjudicate on a dispute resolution mechanism where there are divergent views,” he said.
Criticising the attempt to garner revenue from furnaces for crematoriums, he said this category should be even above the exemption category. “Is this how the Centre wishes to collect revenues?” he asked.
“The imposition of GST on Covid-preventive materials, starting with GST on vaccines and items such as masks, PPEs, sanitisers, medical grade oxygen, testing kits, ventilators, bipap machine, and pulse oximeters among others reflect insensitiveness and lack of compassion,” he said.
He cautioned that the attempt to pick and choose exemptions on the grounds of inverted duty structure or cheaper imports would end up destroying the very foundation of the GST.
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