A section of professionals of the state’s pharma grade sugar manufacturers have a reason to rejoice. The news on reduction in the GST rates on certain items being used in Covid-19 relief and management till 30 September, came as a relief to a group of 83 professionals who had been writing letters to the Centre for over a month, urging it to waive or lower the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on medicines.

The GST Council brought down tax rates on Covid-19 essentials like temperature checking equipment, concentrators, and oximeters. It announced a reduction in rate from 12 per cent to 5 per cent on medical grade oxygen, BiPaP machines, oxygen concentrators, ventilators, pulse oximeter, Remdesivir and zero tax on Tocilizumab and Amphotericin.

Debasish Das, a professional of the industry, along with 82 others had written to the Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and five departments under the ministry highlighting the plight of the common people who are forced to spend more on medicines due to the GST imposed on various kinds of drugs.

The group had also registered grievances on the Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances portal and received a response. “As highlighted in the letter to the FM, the prices of medicines for very common diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, liver or even painkillers, continue to remain high due to GST being levied on these drugs. Generally, the prices of medicines, taken most commonly for such ailments, include GST as high as 12 per cent,” claimed Das.

“The cost of a box of baby food or even a strip of paracetamol includes 12 per cent GST, making treatment extremely difficult for a large section of the citizens who are grappling with economic fallout brought by the lockdown periods during the first and the second waves of the pandemic. We had therefore written to the FM and the Prime Minister’s Office urging the government to waive or reduce taxes on medicines at least for six months,” he added.

According to another signatory of the letter, even as the taxes on certain items have been reduced, a complete waiver on other medicines used for the treatment of common ailments, is very much needed.