Coronavirus: Centre removes customs duty, health cess on ventilators, kits
Covid-19 in India: The move will make import of ventilators, face masks, surgical masks, personal protection equipment (PPE), Covid-19 test kits and inputs required for manufacturing of these items cheaper by 11% to 22%, a government official said on condition of anonymity.Updated: Apr 10, 2020 04:39 IST
The government on Thursday exempted crucial medical equipment required to fight the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) from basic customs duty and health cess for six months, the revenue department said in a statement.
The decision will make import of ventilators, face masks, surgical masks, personal protection equipment (PPE), Covid-19 test kits and inputs required for manufacturing of these items cheaper by 11% to 22%, a government official said on condition of anonymity.
“In the context of Covid-19 situation, considering the immediate requirement of ventilators and other items, the central government has granted exemption from basic customs duty and health cess, on their import, with immediate effect,” the official said.
The exemption from the basic customs duty and the health cess, wherever applicable, shall be available up to the September 30, 2020, the official said.
Currently, there is a 10% duty on ventilators and test kits, and 7.5% on face and surgical masks. It ranges from 7.5% to 10% on PPE. Health cess is flat 5% on all these goods.
India has restricted exports of diagnostic kits to discourage outbound shipments. The government has also banned exports of all kinds of ventilators, sanitisers, and textile raw materials for masks and coveralls. These all moves are aimed at maintaining the availability of these goods in India.
Reacting to the move, Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner, EY told PTI: “This was a much anticipated and a welcome exemption given the dire need of these goods to fight COVID 19 in India.”
The move came even as some political leaders protested the Centre’s notification that said states can’t procure their own PPE.
In a notification sent to principal secretaries of the health departments of states on April 2, the Union ministry of health and family welfare asked them not to procure crucial medical equipment such as PPE, N95 masks and ventilators on their own, as they will be procured by the Centre and then distributed to the states. The decision was taken at the third meeting of the Empowered Group formed to look at procurement of medical equipment that took place on April 1, the note said.
DMK MP from Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri Senthilkumar S condemned the move to make health care centralised.
Former Lok Sabha MP from Kerala MB Rajesh said: “The first case was detected on January 30 and the lockdown was announced on March 24; the government had 54 days to act, but it wasted time. One cannot eradicate COVID-19 by lockdown, so every state has to prepare.”