Importers can fill single-page form if difficulty in customs clearance of COVID-related items

Economy


To fast-track passage of imported oxygen and coronavirus-related medicines, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has asked such importers to fill up a single-page online form giving description of the goods and its end use, in case of difficulty faced by them in getting prompt customs clearance.

The CBIC, which is the apex body related to customs duty and clearances, has already made public the names and contact details of nodal officers for facilitating COVID-19 customs assistance to trade and has asked all customs zones to clear such items in the shortest possible time.

The CBIC in a tweet said, “Attention Importers! In case of any difficulty faced regarding imports of COVID19 related equipment or medicaments, please provide details on the link https://forms.gle/T4ZreUcoeABvmjQs6 for expediting customs clearances.”

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The importers will be required to fill up the ‘pre-intimation for prompt clearance of COVID related items’ form giving details of the bill of entry number, airport/port of import, and description of goods and end-use in COVID-19 treatment/relief operations, among others.

Separately, Delhi customs (air cargo complex import commissionerate) in a public notice said a nodal officer will facilitate faster customs clearance of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), key starting material, drug intermediaries of medicine/vaccine/various testing and lab equipment/oxygen-related equipment.

The government on Saturday waived customs duty on import of COVID-19 vaccines as well as medical grade oxygen and related equipment as the nation battled its worst health crisis with a “tsunami” of infections setting a new world record for cases.

It also directed customs officers to clear all import consignments, including life-saving drugs and oxygen equipment, used in COVID-19 treatment on the highest priority.

In a review meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also directed the revenue department to ensure seamless and quick custom clearance of such equipments. Accordingly, the Department of Revenue has nominated Customs Joint Secretary Gaurav Masaldan as the nodal officer for issues related to customs clearance.

The 16 oxygen and related equipment on which duty has been waived include oxygen concentrator along with flow meter, regulator, connectors and tubing, oxygen canister, filling systems, storage tanks, cylinders, including cryogenic cylinders and tanks.

Ventilators (capable of functioning as high-flow devices) with nasal canula; helmets for use with non-invasive ventilation, non-invasive ventilation oronasal and nasal masks for ICU ventilators have also been exempted from the import duty and health cess.

The government had previously waived customs duty on imported remdesivir injections and the drug’s API to boost supplies.

All these items so far attracted basic customs duty in the range of 5-15 per cent and a health cess of 5 per cent. Vaccines attracted a 10 per cent duty.

India reported a record 3,49,691 new infections on Sunday, bringing its total to 1.69 crore. Deaths also rose by a record 2,767 to total 1,92,311.



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