Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urged the Union Finance Minister to exempt GST on purchase of vaccine for COVID-19 by states. The Odisha CM also sought financial assistance to states from cess and surcharges collected by the Government of India.
Patnaik on Thursday wrote a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman regarding exemption of GST on purchase of Vaccine for COVID-19 and financial assistance to States from Cess and Surcharges collected by Government of India.
The Odisha CM’s letter read: “India is going through a tough phase in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a war-like situation and all our resources should be focused on winning this war against corona. This is not going to be a one-time battle. We will have a sustained challenge in this fight against Covid till serious advances are made in treatment and vaccination.”
The states have been asked to purchase vaccines out of their own resources to cover the 18 to 45 years age group of the population. These purchases attract the Goods and Service Taxes ( GST) making the vaccines costly for the states. In this backdrop, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik proposed that GST needs to be exempted completely as it will reduce the cost for the States and facilitate our drive towards universal vaccination.
“In this long and sustained effort required to fight Covid, it is important that the states are supported so that the entire country fights as one. Lack of finances should not affect any state affecting the entire country in turn. Hence the additional resources raised through various cess and surcharges on petrol, diesel, liquor etc which are exclusively available to the Union Government may be suitably shared with State Governments at this critical juncture. This will strengthen our fight against the pandemic including provision of vaccinations, free treatment, undertaking preventive measures and so on,” the letter read.
Naveen further urged Sitharaman to examine the suggestions and take necessary action urgently in view of the emergency health situation in the country and to strengthen our unified fight against Covid.