COVID-19 vaccine, oxygen imports exempted from GST, with caveats

Relaxation only for global donors certified by State Govts

Updated - May 04, 2021 07:55 am IST

Published - May 03, 2021 10:43 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Family members of coronavirus patients wait outside an oxygen-filling centre, in New Delhi on May 3, 2021.

Family members of coronavirus patients wait outside an oxygen-filling centre, in New Delhi on May 3, 2021.

Imports of COVID-19 relief material, including vaccines, medical oxygen and Remdesivir vials, will get a conditional ‘ad-hoc’ Goods and Services Tax (GST) exemption till June 30, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.

The government had already exempted the import of these items from customs duty and health cess, but integrated GST (IGST) was being levied on such imports, which will be withdrawn for two months for ‘relief materials being donated from abroad’.

The exemption won’t be available for domestic companies or charities importing these items if they are purchasing them, even if for free distribution in the country, senior officials clarified. The relevant notification specifies that the relaxation is for COVID-19 material ‘received free of cost for free distribution anywhere in India for COVID relief’.

State chief secretaries were told to appoint nodal officers so that ‘entities desirous of importing COVID relief material for free distribution may approach them for certification’. So global donors would need to register with individual States where they wish to route relief material.

“This is in response to representations from charitable organisations, corporates and entities outside India seeking exemption from paying IGST on the import of COVID-19 relief material,” the Ministry said in a statement.

Goods already imported but pending clearance from Customs as of Monday, will also be covered. Last week, the government allowed the import of oxygen concentrators for personal use without paying customs duties, though a GST of 28% was payable for such imports, which was subsequently reduced to 12%.

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