New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The government on Thursday exempted various medical equipment from levy of basic customs duty and health cess in order to allow cheaper imports of these critical devices that are required in large numbers in the country to contain coronavirus pandemic.
The basic customs duty exemption will be applicable until September 30 so that enough time is available for imports.
The exemption has been given for imports of ventilators, face masks, surgical masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), Covid-19 test kits and all inputs that go into manufacturing of these devices.
"In the context of COVID-19 situation, considering the immediate requirement of ventilators and other items, the Central government has granted exemption from basic customs duty and health cess, on the import of following goods, with immediate effect: a. Ventilators, b. Facemasks, surgical masks, c. Personal protection equipment d. COVID-19 test kits e. Inputs for manufacture of the above items," a Finance Ministry statement announcing the changes said.
Earlier in the day, the Centre also approved a COVID-19n emergency package worth Rs 15,000 crore for states. It has been named India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package.
In recent days as the number of Covid-19 positive patients has gone up, so has the requirement in Indian hospitals while the domestic production of some of these medical equipment is now increasingly becoming insufficient to meet the growing requirement. Due to shortage of the equipment, there has been a spike in prices of key products that is being made domestically. Reduction is duty is expected push down prices and improve availability of these equipment.