Bhubaneswar:6/5/21: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday requested the Central government to exempt Goods and Services Tax (GST) on purchase of vaccines for COVID-19.
In a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Patnaik said that 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 GST making the vaccines costly for the states. Hence GST needs to be exempted completely.
“The exemption of the GST will reduce the cost for the States and facilitate our drive towards universal vaccination,” Patnaik mentioned in the letter to the Centre.
The Chief Minister of Odisha has also sought financial assistance to States from Cess and Surcharges collected by the Government of India.
Highlighting that 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, Patnaik stated in his letter that lack of finances should not affect any state as it might affect 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,” the CM pointed out in his request to the Union government.
The Chief Minister stressed that sharing of financial assistance with States will strengthen the fight against the pandemic including provision of vaccinations, free treatment, undertaking preventive measures and so on.