The government has decided to exempt basics customs duty on import of COVID-19 vaccines, and the basic customs duty and health cess on import of medical grade Oxygen and other equipment related to providing oxygen to patients, for a period of three months.
These decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by the Prime Minister to review steps taken to boost oxygen availability in the country, the finance ministry said on Saturday. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Health Minister Harsha Vardhan and AIIMS director Randeep Guleria were among those present at the meeting.
“The PM emphasized 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. PM stressed that all ministries and departments need to work in synergy to increase availability of oxygen and medical supplies,” said a statement from the ministry.
While basic customs duty on Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients has been waived, it was suggested that 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 items related to Oxygen and Oxygen related equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect,” the ministry said. “It was also decided that Basic Customs Duty on import of Covid vaccines be also exempted with immediate effect for a period of 3 months,” it added.
Apart from medical grade oxygen, the customs duty has been exemption has been extended to Oxygen concentrators, Oxygen Cannisters, filling systems, storage tanks, ventilators, compressors, along with other similar items. The customs duty exemption will boost availability of these items as well as make them cheaper, the ministry said.
“The PM directed the Revenue Department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment. Accordingly, the Department has nominated Gaurav Masaldan, joint secretary, Customs, as the nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance for the above-mentioned items,” the ministry said.
“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,” the ministry said.