State seeks GST exemption on drugs used for cancer, kidney treatment

The drugs used for cancer and kidney treatment, and medical equipment for dialysis in Maharashtra may continue to be exempted from all taxes even after the roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has written to Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and has sought GST exemption for specific cancer and kidney treatment medicines which were already exempted under value added tax (VAT) in the state.

“Within a year of BJP coming into power, I took a decision to do away with taxes on medicines and equipment used for cancer, kidney diseases and dialysis,” said Mungantiwar. “We had enlisted over 108 medicines which were under exemption in state. GST will be introduced from July 1. We are now demanding that the exemption shall still continue to stay on these medicines and equipment under GST.”

“The recommendation, when it comes into force, will be applied on medicine and equipment sold under a generic name or a brand name,” the minister added. “I am hopeful that the central government will agree to my recommendation and might give a waiver.”

 Saying that cancer is the most “dreadful disease”, Mungantiwar added, “Person from any strata can get affected by it. In our state, especially in Central India, there is a huge concentration of patients suffering from oral cancer. Even the medicine rates are high.”
“The dialysis facility across the country needs improvement. Over the years, a gradual growth is also observed in rate of patients going through dialysis. These types of exemption will also bring relief to patients suffering from kidney ailments,” he said.
Before the waiver was introduced by state government in 2015, 5% VAT was levied on the drugs used for cancer and dialysis, while the medical equipment was sold with a VAT ranging between 5 and 12.5%. Import duty on dialysis equipment like dialyser and tubing, used to be around 44%, making the procedure extremely expensive.

Times of India, 26 January 2017