Chief minister Naveen Patnaik wrote a letter to Union finance minister Niramala Sitharaman, requesting her to exempt GST, cess and surcharges on the vaccines purchased by the states for the 18-44 age group.

“India is going through a tough phase in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a war-like situation and all our resources should be focussed on winning this war against coronavirus. This is not going to be a one-time battle. We will have a sustained challenge in this fight against Covid till serious advances are made in treatment and vaccination,” CM Patnaik wrote in his letter.

According to the Odisha CM, the GST makes vaccines costly for the states. “GST needs to be exempted completely. It will reduce the cost for the states and facilitate our drive towards universal vaccination,” he added.

Patnaik requested the Centre to support the states in fight against the ongoing second wave of coronavirus pandemic.

“Lack of finances should not affect any state. Hence, the additional resources raised through various cess and surcharges on petrol, diesel and liquor, etc., which are exclusively available to the Union government may be suitably shared with state governments at this critical juncture,” he said.

He also opined that the Centre should share cess and surcharges on commodities like liquor, petrol and diesel with the state governments at this point. Patnaik added that with financial support, the states will be able to provide vaccinations and free treatment to all, besides putting preventive measures in place. He requested a quick examination and action on the letter as the states continue to suffer due to the health disaster.