03.04.2023: Disability aids, appliances should not attract 5% GST: Parliamentary panel

Aids and appliances for people with disabilities should not attract a 5 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) charge as it does now, a Parliamentary panel has noted. Noting that these materials are critical for the disabled to “pursue independence, literacy and employment with dignity”, the panel has asked the social justice ministry to take up the matter with the GST Council at the earliest. 

The department-related standing committee in its demand for grants report for the Social Justice and Empowerment ministry has noted that the ministry’s department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, being a “social welfare department attending to the marginalised section of the society” should endeavour to have these items declared tax free. 

The panel, headed by BJP MP Rama Devi, has also pointed at the under utilisation of funds meant for the Assistance of Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids/Appliances (ADIP) scheme under which disabled people are provided assistive devices and corrective surgeries. In 2022-23, the Centre set aside Rs 235 crore under budgetary estimates for the scheme, revising it at Rs 230 crore under revised estimates. However, the actual expenditure for the scheme was only Rs 146.01 crore; the Centre has said that “social distancing norms” disrupted the manufacturing and distribution mechanism under the scheme. For 2023-24, an amount of Rs 245 crore has been set aside. 

The panel has now asked the ministry to work on a focused approach by taking up special drives regularly for holding camps, programmes etc during the year 2023-24, and pay attention to publicity of the scheme.  

Source: Deccan Herald

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