18 per cent GST on alcohol-based hand sanitisers!

In March, the government had capped prices of hand sanitizers at Rs. 100/ 200 ml, but GST law has a separate list of exempted goods

Image Courtesy:thehindubusinessline.com

Even as the Covid-19 Pandemic rages on, and most in india do not have easy access to clean water and soap to wash hands to prevent Coronavirus infection, the Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR) has ordered that 18 per cent GST will be levied on all alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

According to multiple news reports a company named Springfield India Distilleries had approached the Goa-bench of AAR to seek `classification of hand sanitisers supplied by the company, and contended that the product is taxed at 12%.’ It also wanted to know if sanitisers are exempt from GST since it is now an essential commodity. Apart from the 18% GST, the AAR, in its ruling, said  even though the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has classified hand sanitisers as an essential commodity, the GST law has a separate list of exempted goods.

As expected the news of 18% GST got many angry reactions on social media.


It was on March 13, when Covid-19 had begun to spread at an increasing rate, and the supplies, especially of face masks were low, that the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry had declared face masks and hand sanitisers as essential commodities. They had been clarified as ‘essential commodities’  for 100 days, to encourage manufacturers and retailers to boost supply and also to prevent hoarding of these items by consumers.

By March 21 the Union Government issued orders to cap the retail prices of hand sanitisers at Rs. 100 per bottle of 200 ml. Retail prices of surgical mask (3 ply) were capped at Rs. 10 and that of mask (2 ply) at Rs. 8 per piece. Then the Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Food & Civil Supplies, Pawan Agarwal told the media that a notification had been issued on March 20, and “both these items have already been included in the Essential Commodities Act.”

The government had also asked distilleries “to ramp production of Ethyl Alcohol and provide them to manufacturers of deodorant sprays so that there is no shortage of hand sanitisers.” These were no longer classified as ‘essential items’ after  June 30. The official reason was that there was ‘enough supply’ in the country.

Face masks continue to be one of the top of Covid-19 prevention measures, followed by physical distancing and hand washing/sanitising. According to the government’s own data India has registered a record single-day jump of 29,429 Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 9,36,181 (till Wednesday), the fatality toll has risen to 24,309 with 582 new deaths being recorded. There are 3,19,840 active Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday.

Wearing a face cover, or mask when out in public is now compulsory in India. However, not everyone can afford to buy a mask, and hand sanitisers remain a luxury item. Most frontline workers, such as ASHA workers, and Anganwadi workers who are out for Covid-19 surveys, and sanitation workers do not have access to these protective items. Most people are out covering their mouth and noses with gamchas and dupattas, of various thickness, if they have one. They wash their hands only when they can, often at the end of the day when they return home. 

According to information from the Press Information Bureau some of the states still reporting a rise in Covid-19 cases include: 

Maharashtra, which recorded  6,497 new  Covid-19  cases in the last 24 hours, and 193 deaths. The state now has 2,60,924 cases and a death toll of 10,482. 

Gujarat has recorded 902 new cases during the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 42,808. 

Rajasthan has 98 new cases and the total number of cases in the state is now above 25,000-mark.

Madhya Pradesh recorded  575 new cases (on Monday,) and now has over 18,207 Covid-19 patients. 

Chhattisgarh reported 184 new corona positive patients (on Monday,) which takes the state tally of positive cases to 4265.

Goa has 130 new cases, and a total of 2,583, with 1,026 active cases.

Kerala has 4,028 active cases with 713 persons admitted to the hospital yesterday, the highest till date.






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