Exempt medicines from GST regime, demands DAK

BK News Desk/Srinagar
July 15, 2017 BUSINESS 193 Views

With the recent introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in Jammu and Kashmir (JK), Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) today said that medicines should be exempted from the tax regime.
“GST exemption would keep medicines within the reach of poor,” DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan said.
He said the tax waiver would help in reducing medicine prices and make drugs affordable to poor patients and save lives.
“GST is the single tax on the supply of goods and services that has replaced the indirect taxes levied by the central and state governments. The government has levied 12 per cent GST on all drugs except essential ones which are in 5 per cent bracket, while food protein medicines have an 18 per cent tax,” he said.
He said in the past, tax on medicines was 5 per cent, 9 per cent and 17 per cent, but now it is hiked to 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent with 12 per cent slab on most of the drugs.
“Only human blood and its components and contraceptives have been exempted from GST. With the implementation of GST, the prices of majority of essential drugs will increase by 2.29 per cent,” he said.
Until now, he said life-saving drugs that treat diseases like Malaria, HIV- AIDS, Tuberculosis and Diabetes had been exempted from excise duties and only a few states charged 5 per cent tax on them, but GST has now slotted them compulsorily under the 5 per cent slab.
“High prices on medicines are major barriers to the use of drugs. In JK, 21.63 per cent population, comprising of 24.21 lakh people don’t have access to medicines due to lack of purchasing power,” he said.
“Majority of cancer patients die for want of treatment because they cannot afford costly anti-cancer drugs. Also, the high cost of medicines contributes to non-adherence of long term essential therapies for patients with diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular ailments,” he added

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