‘Essential life support machines’: Sisodia seeks GST exemption on oxygen concentrators for 6 months
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Monday requested Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to consider exempting the goods and services tax (GST) on oxygen concentrators for six months in order to make them more affordable for citizens.
The health infrastructure of Delhi is crippling amid the shortage of oxygen supplies to treat the critical patients of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Several patients have lost their lives in the national capital since last month as hospitals have only managed to make temporary arrangements to address the oxygen shortage and their supplies are exhausting regularly.
In a letter to Sitharaman, Sisodia said oxygen concentrators have become essential life support machines during this unprecedented health crisis. “Oxygen concentrators are in short supply and even if one manages to arrange an oxygen cylinder, there is an unprecedented shortfall in the availability of medical oxygen creating uncertainty and panic among patients under home isolation. There is no availability of oxygen concentrators in the market,” Sisodia said.
Citing Delhi’s Covid-19 disease situation, the deputy chief minister wrote there have been 25,000 fresh cases on a daily basis and 10% of these require some form of hospitalisation including oxygen support. Over 50,000 patients are in home isolation and around a quarter of them require some sort of oxygen support at home due to difficulty in availability of beds in the national capital.
Sisodia informed Sitharaman that there are 16,272 non-ICU oxygen beds and 4,866 ICU beds in Delhi and the Aam-Aadmi Party-led government is creating additional 15,000 oxygenated non-ICU beds and 1,200 ICU beds “which are likely to be operationalised over the next 10 days.”
The deputy chief minister also wrote that he was grateful to the Centre for allowing import of oxygen concentrators for personal use through e-commerce portals till July 31 and the reduction of integrated GST (IGST) on these imports from 28% to 12%.
Earlier in the day, Sisodia wrote to Union defence minister Rajnath Singh, seeking the Indian Army’s help to set up and operationalise coronavirus facilities with 1,000 ICU beds and 10,000 oxygenated non-ICU beds.
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Nearly 1.2 million have been infected with Covid-19 in Delhi while 16,966 have succumbed to the disease. On Sunday, 20,394 new cases were reported while the daily toll remained above 400 (407 to be exact) for the second consecutive day. The overall recoveries have climbed to 1,085,690 while the active cases are at 92,290.