45th GST Council meet

The significant 45th Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting is held on September 17, 2021 at Lucknow. This is the first on-ground GST Council meeting in almost 20 months. The previous Council meeting was held via videoconferencing on 12.06.2021. The Council, which comprises the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her state counterparts, decided to continue keeping petrol and diesel out of the GST purview as subsuming the current excise duty and VAT into one national rate would impact revenues.

Despite the issue being discussed extensively, the latest meeting did not see petrol and diesel being brought under the GST fold. States have broadly argued against the idea, saying this was not the right time to implement the idea. Meanwhile, the Council extended concessional tax rates on COVID-19 medicines, cut tax on cancer drugs and waived GST on import of highly expensive medicines for muscular atrophy. The items on which rate cuts were made included Remdesivir, Tocilizumab, medical grade oxygen, oxygen generator, ventilators, masks, covid testing kits, oximeters, hand sanitizers, cremation furnaces, ambulances, temperature checking devices and others. GST Council decided to charge food delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato a tax. The food delivery aggregators will have to collect and deposit 5 per cent GST with the government, in place of restaurants, for deliveries made by them, the finance minister said. The move comes against the backdrop of the proposal of the GST Fitment Committee to the Council to make e-commerce operators (ECOs) liable to pay GST on restaurant service supplied through them.