The country has been reeling under a severe oxygen shortage with multiple hospitals even in the national capital putting out SOS about supply running out and taking legal recourse.
Modi asserted 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.
“In order to augment … production and availability and to meet the rising demand, it was decided to grant full exemption from Basic Customs Duty and health cess on import …… items related to Oxygen and Oxygen related equipment for a period of three months with immediate effect,” an official statement said.
Apart from the above, it was also decided that basic customs duty on import of Covid vaccines be also exempted with immediate effect for a period of three months, it added.
“This will boost availability of these items as well as make them cheaper,” it said.
Modi also asked the revenue department to ensure seamless and quick customs clearance for oxygen related equipment. The department, following the directive, has nominated a nodal officer in the Central Board of Indirect taxes and Customs for any issues related to customs clearances for these items.
Exemption has been given to medical grade oxygen, oxygen concentrator, oxygen generators, Cryogenic cylinders, tanks and transportation tanks, ventilators and host of other equipment.
The government has taken several measures over the last few days to improve supply of oxygen and medical supplies. Indian Air Force has been roped in to bring in cryogenic oxygen tanks from Singapore. It is also transporting oxygen tanks in the country to reduce travel times.
The meeting was attended by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Health Minister Harshvardhan and senior officials from PMO, finance, Niti Aayog, Dr Randeep Guleria, director AIIMs participated in the meeting.