Coronavirus | Customs duty on vaccines, oxygen imports waived for three months

Equipment related to providing oxygen also exempted from duty, health cess

Updated - April 24, 2021 11:35 pm IST

Published - April 24, 2021 03:07 pm IST - NEW DELHI

An empty cryogenic oxygen container is loaded onto an Indian Air Force plane. Photo: Twitter/IAF_MCC via PTI

An empty cryogenic oxygen container is loaded onto an Indian Air Force plane. Photo: Twitter/IAF_MCC via PTI

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.

The 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 MinisterNirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Health Minister Harsha Vardhan and AIIMS director Randeep Guleria were among those present at the meeting.

“The government has taken a lot of measures in the last few days to improve supplyof 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.

“The PM 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. The PM stressed that all ministries and departments need to work in synergyto increase availability of oxygen and medical supplies,” the statement said.

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 decidedto grant full exemption from Basic Customs Duty and health cesson 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 CustomsDuty 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, asthe nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance for the above-mentioned items,” the Ministry said.

By Saturday evening, the Finance Ministry had notified the duty exemptions on medical oxygen, oxygen-related equipment and COVID-19 vaccines, which will be in force till July 31, 2021.

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