24 Apr 2021: COVID-19: Customs duty, health cess on vaccines, oxygen waived off
Customs duty and health cess on the import of coronavirus vaccines and medical oxygen have been waived off with immediate effect for a period of three months, the central government said on Saturday.
The decision was announced after a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India battles a dreadful second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are more details on this.
Details: Which all items have been exempted?
The items that have been exempted from basic customs duty and health cess are medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator, regulators, connectors, and tubing.
Oxygen cannister, oxygen filling systems, oxygen cylinders, storage tanks, ventilators with nasal canula, ISO containers for shipping oxygen, and any other device from which oxygen can be generated, as well as their parts, have also been exempted.
Statement: Decision taken to 'augment production and availability' of oxygen
"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," the government said.
"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."
Details: Government also appoints nodal officer for customs clearance issues
"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 (sic)," the statement further read.
Meanwhile, the government has appointed Gaurav Masaldan, Joint Secretary, Customs, as the nodal officer to deal with customs clearance issues, the statement added.
Shortage: Scores of patients die as states report acute oxygen shortage
The development has come even as hospitals across several states continue to report an acute shortage of medical oxygen, a necessity to treat critical COVID-19 patients.
In an incident highlighting the deplorable condition, 25 patients died last night at the Jaipur Golden Hospital in Delhi due to the shortage of oxygen.
This morning, six patients died at a private hospital in Amritsar, Punjab.
Situation: COVID-19 situation in India continues to worsen
India is currently in the middle of an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting lakhs of infections and hundreds of deaths daily amid an overburdened health infrastructure.
In the last 24 hours, the country reported nearly 3.5 lakh new cases - the highest single-day surge for any country in the outbreak.
Over 2,000 more fatalities took the death toll past 1.89 lakh.