After PM Modi’s high-level meet, Centre waives off basic customs duty, health cess on oxygen, Covid-19 vaccines
The Centre said on Saturday customs duty and health cess on the import of vaccines against the coronavirus disease and oxygen needed to treat critical Covid-19 patients will be waived with immediate effect for three months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to discuss ways to boost the battle against the pandemic. Following reports of acute shortage of oxygen from several states and Union territories, especially Delhi, PM Modi stressed the immediate need to augment the supply of medical grade oxygen as well as equipment required for patient care both at home and in hospitals.
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“PM was briefed that basic customs duty was exempted on Remdesivir and its API recently. It was suggested that the import of equipment related to providing oxygen to patients needs to be expedited. In order to augment their production and availability and to meet the rising demand, it was decided to grant full exemption from Basic Customs Duty and health cess on import of the following (16) items related to Oxygen and Oxygen related equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect,” the government’s statement said.
Oxygen related items that are exempt from basic customs duty and health cess are medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing, vacuum pressure swing absorption (VPSA) and pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, cryogenic oxygen air separation units (ASUs) producing liquid or gaseous oxygen, oxygen canister, oxygen filling systems, oxygen storage tanks, oxygen cylinders including cryogenic cylinders and tanks, oxygen generators, ISO containers for shipping oxygen, and cryogenic road transport tanks for oxygen.
Other items that are exempt are parts of all these items to be used for the manufacture of equipment for production, transportation, distribution or storage of oxygen, any other device from which oxygen can be generated, ventilators (capable of functioning as high-flow devices) with a nasal cannula; compressors including all accessories and tubing; humidifiers and viral filters, high flow nasal cannula device with all attachments, helmets for use with non-invasive ventilation, non-invasive ventilation oronasal masks for ICU ventilators, and non-invasive ventilation nasal masks for ICU ventilators.
“This will boost the availability of these items as well as make them cheaper. The PM directed the Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick customs clearance of such equipment. Accordingly, the Department of Revenue has nominated Shri Gaurav Masaldan, Joint Secretary, Customs, as the nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance for the above-mentioned items,” the statement said.
Twenty patients suffering from coronavirus disease and admitted to Jaipur Golden hospital in Delhi’s Rohini area died due to low oxygen pressure as the hospital’s stock ran dry, according to hospital officials. The high-level meeting also came on a day India reported more than 300,000 new Covid-19 cases for the third day in a row.
As the country battles the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with the situation becoming grimmer by the day, Modi reiterated the need for all ministries and departments to work in synergy to increase the availability of oxygen and medical supplies.