The Union government scrapped a basic customs duty and health cess on oxygen and oxygen-related equipment until any further notice to ramp up the supply, as already the hospitals are battling the fatal shortage of oxygen amid a devastating surge in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a high-level meeting on ramping up oxygen supply in which the decisions on waiving off the duties were taken and covid-19 vaccines too would be exempt from basics customs was also decided.
“The Prime Minister chaired a meeting to review steps taken to boost oxygen availability in the country. 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,” an official statement read.
At the high-level meeting, key decisions of waiving customs duty on oxygen and oxygen related equipment & COVID-19 vaccines were taken. https://t.co/TgorIafqw6
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 24, 2021
The government had decided to approve a full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of oxygen and related gear for three months the statement said.
The PM urged all ministries and departments that they need to work in synergy to increase the availability of oxygen and medical supplies, according to the statement.
The scrapping on related import duties will make the imports easy and make imported oxygen and related medical equipment cheaper, measures likely to boost availability.
But with basic customs duty on Remdesivir, a drug that is recommended for the use to treat Covid-19 patients in certain in-hospital cases, and Remdesivir’s active pharmaceutical ingredients has already been waived off.
In the meeting chaired by PM, there were discussions on speeding up the import of equipment related to providing oxygen, which could result in more easing of import regulations related to medical use of oxygen.
This is the third consecutive day when there is a shortage of medical oxygen has paralysed Covid-19 treatment in major hospitals in Delhi and other cities.
Hence, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday had said the capital’s requirement of oxygen stood at 700 MT, while only about 400 MT was available, while the capital’s quota was enhanced to 480 MT.
The PM chaired a meet in order to augment production and availability and meet the rising demands and to decide to grant full exemption from basic customs duty and health cess on import of a range of medical equipment and gear, including medical-grade oxygen, oxygen concentrators along with flow meters, regulators, connectors and tubing vacuum pressure swing absorption units.
Any other device from which oxygen can be generated will also enjoy these waivers. The PM has directed the revenue department to ensure continuous and quick customs clearance of such equipment.
The department of revenue has named Gaurav Masaldan, joint secretary, customs, as the nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance for the oxygen and oxygen-related gear, the official statement added.