After Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering suggestions to tackle COVID-19, Union Minister of State (MoS) for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur on Sunday gave point wise responses elaborating measures taken by the Centre and rectifying some of the “misconceptions” in the letter.
Mr Thakur posted Kharge’s letter to PM Modi on his Twitter handle and said on government supplies, GST is also paid by the government. “From GST collected on the vaccine, half is earned by the Centre and another half by the States. 41 per cent of Centre’s collections also get devolved to the States. States end up receiving almost 70 per cent of the total revenue collected from vaccines,” he explained.
“A nominal 5 per cent GST is in the interest of the domestic manufacturer of vaccine and in the interest of citizens. If full exemption from GST is given, vaccine manufacturers would not be able to offset their input taxes and would pass them on to the end consumer/citizen by increasing the price. A 5 per cent GST rate ensures that the manufacturer is able to utilise Input Tax Credit (ITC) and in case of overflow of ITC, claim a refund. Exemption to the vaccine from GST would be counterproductive without benefiting the consumer,” the MoS said.
Calling India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive ‘world’s fastest and largest’, he said 15 crore people have been vaccinated in 103 days. While 17.56 crore vaccine doses were provided to States/UTs free of cost, 72 lakh doses were still available with States/UTs to be administered. “More than 46 lakh doses in addition will be received by States/UTs in the next 3 days. COVID vaccines are being provided free of cost by the Government of India to those who are 45 years of age and above and to all frontline workers,” he tweeted.
He informed that 1.5 lakh doses of COVID vaccine Sputnik V have already reached India and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has also tied up with local Indian companies for bulk production.
1.5 Lk doses of Sputnik V have already reached India and RDIF has also tied up with local Indian companies for bulk production.
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) May 9, 2021
Speaking about Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), he said: “Not only did NDA Government double the allocation during the COVID period last year from Rs 61,500 crore to a historic high of over Rs 1 lakh crore, but also increased the wages to Rs 202 thereby ensuring 300 crore person days of work in total. And it is demand driven.”
In order to augment availability of these items, he said that the government also provided full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess to their commercial imports.”GST rates varying 5 per cent (on vaccines), 12 per cent (COVID drugs, oxygen concentrators) is applicable to domestic supplies and commercial import of items.
“Assistance to States/UTs 6,608 Oxy Concentrators, 3,856 Oxy Cylinders, 1500 PSA plants being set up across country via PMCARES and PSUs 4,330 ventilators/ Bi PAP/ C PAP, Over 3 lakh Remdesivir vials delivered/dispatched, 400 ex-AMC/SSC medics, released between 2017-2021 expected to be recruited.
Mr Kharge on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Modi and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and suggested convening an all-party meeting and virtual meetings of Parliament Standing Committees to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the country.
“Use Rs 35,000 crore allocated in the Union Budget to ensure free vaccine for all. Leverage compulsory licensing to increase production of vaccines,” reads Kharge’s letter.
He further suggested to expand the scope of MNREGA to 200 days.
With 4,03,738 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, India continued to report more than four lakh daily coronavirus infections for the fourth day on the trot.
With this, the cumulative national tally of the infection went up to 2,22,96,414, the union health ministry said on Sunday morning.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)