24 April 2021 –
Centre also decided to waive health cess on the import of oxygen and connected equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect
Amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, the union government decided to grant full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of oxygen-related equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect.
“The decisions were taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said the government on Saturday.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Principal Secretary to the PM, and other senior officials.
He was told that basic customs duty was exempted on Remdesivir and its API (active pharmaceutical ingredient) recently, and a suggestion was made that the import of equipment related to providing oxygen to patients needs to be expedited, the government statement said, announcing the measures.
The Prime Minister emphasised that there was an immediate need to augment the supply of medical grade oxygen as well as equipment required for patient care both at home and in hospitals.
During the meeting, the government also decided that basic customs duty on import of Covid vaccines be exempted with immediate effect for a period of 3 months.
“Modi stressed that all ministries and departments need to work in synergy to increase availability of oxygen and medical supplies,” the government said in an official statement.
The items to benefit from the decision include medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing vacuum pressure swing Alabsorption (VPSA) and pressure swing absorption (PSA) oxygen plants, cryogenic oxygen air separation units (ASUs) producing liquid/ gaseous oxygen.
Oxygen cannister, oxygen filling systems, oxygen storage tanks, oxygen cylinders, including cryogenic cylinders and tanks besides any other device from which oxygen can be generated are among several other items under this category.
The statement noted that the government has taken a lot of measures in the last few days to improve supply of oxygen and medical supplies.
“IAF planes are bringing in cryogenic oxygen tanks from Singapore. IAF is also transporting oxygen tanks in the country to reduce travel times. Similarly, in a major decision yesterday, free food grains will be given 80 crore Indians for the month of May & June,” it added.
Govt says the above decisions will boost availability of these items as well as make them cheaper. The PM directed the revenue department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment.
Accordingly, the Department of Revenue has nominated Gaurav Masaldan, Joint Secretary, Customs, as the nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance for the above-mentioned items.
India on Saturday reported a world record of 346,786 fresh coronavirus infections, taking the cumulative caseload to 16,610,481. The country also saw 2,624 deaths in highest single-day spike as hospitals and patients gasp for oxygen and plead for supplies.