PM Modi Reviews Supply of Medical Oxygen, Waives off Basic Customs Duty, Health Cess on Import of O2

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a meeting to review steps taken to boost oxygen availability to treat critical Covid-19 patients across the country and 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, a government statement said.

It also said that the Modi-led government has decided to waive basic customs duty and health cess on the import of oxygen and connected equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect. Moreover, the Prime Minister has also taken a decision to exempt basic customs duty on the import of Covid-19 vaccines with immediate effect for a period of three months. The Revenue Department has also been directed to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipment.

The Prime Minister stressed all ministries and departments need to work in synergy to up availability of oxygen and medical supplies.

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 statement said, announcing a slew of measures. 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 and June,” it added.

On Friday, the Prime Minister Modi had called for utilising the industry’s full potential to meet the demand of medical oxygen in the coming days, saying there is a need to increase the availability of oxygen cylinders as well as to upgrade logistical facilities for its transportation.

He had stressed the need to maintain good coordination between the government and the oxygen producers, according to a statement. A rapid rise in the Covid-19 cases has driven a massive demand for medical oxygen by states and hospitals. In the last few days, hospitals have sent out SOS for its supply.

(with inputs from PTI)

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