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‘Exempt oxygen tanks, Covid medicines from taxes’: Mamata

‘Exempt oxygen tanks, Covid medicines from taxes’: Mamata
Mamata Banerjee
KOLKATA, MAY 9 (AGENCIES): | Publish Date: 5/9/2021 1:42:23 PM IST

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, asking for tax waivers on the import of medicines and equipment needed to fight the Covid pandemic.

She also called on the Prime Minister to strengthen health infrastructure and augment supplies of medicines and oxygen for treatment of coronavirus-positive patients in Bengal and across India.

Banerjee said “organisations, individuals and benevolent agencies” had offered aid - from oxygen concentrators and cylinders to cryogenic storage tanks and COVID-19 medicines. She urged the centre to exempt such items from GST and customs duty, so as to “encourage private aid”.

“... many of the donors and agencies have approached the state government to consider exemption of these items from duty/SGST/CGST/IGST. As the rate structure falls under the purview of the centre, I would request that these items may be exempted from GST/customs duty and other such duties and taxes, to help remove supply constraints...” she wrote.

Donations like these, Mamata stressed, would “greatly supplement the efforts of the state government in meeting the huge gap in demand and supply” of medical resources.

This is Banerjee’s third letter to PM Modi- since being sworn in for a third term on Wednesday - on the Covid crisis in the state. On Friday she wrote to highlight a potential oxygen supply crisis.

She pointed out that the centre - which assesses and allocates oxygen to states - had increased supply of oxygen produced in Bengal to other states, rather than allowing it to remain in Bengal.

On Monday the centre said IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax, levied on inter-state movement of goods and imports) on Covid-related relief material from abroad would be waived till June 30.

Two weeks ago the centre also waived, with immediate effect for three months, customs duty and health cess on the import of Covid vaccines, oxygen and oxygen-related equipment.

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