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NEW DELHI: The government on Monday exempted a host of medical supply used to prevent and treat coronavirus infections, which are received as donations from abroad for free distribution, from Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST).

These include Covid-19 vaccines, oxygen and related equipment, antiviral drug remdesivir and diagnostic kits.

IGST on imports is the equivalent of GST on locally produced items. The IGST relief is applicable till end of June. The Centre had had last month temporarily suspended basic customs duty, the actual tariff barrier, on these items.

An official statement from the finance ministry said it had received a number of requests from charitable organisations and others seeking IGST exemption on Covid-19 relief material received free of cost from outside India for free distribution.

Accordingly, an ad hoc IGST exemption is granted “on import of such goods received free of cost for free distribution for covid relief," said the statement. The two-month exemption also covers goods already imported and waiting for customs clearance.

The relief granted last month includes exemption from basic customs duty and agriculture cess on imported anti-viral drug Remdesivir, its raw material and specified inflammatory diagnostic kits and reagents till end of October. Also, the government has given basic customs duty and agriculture cess exemption to 18 items including covid-19 vaccines, medical oxygen, related equipment such as oxygen concentrators and cryogenic transport tanks till end of July.

Finance ministry said donated medical supplies can be imported free of cost by a state government or a relief agency or statutory body for free distribution. The government has accorded highest priority for customs clearance to all Covid-19 related equipment and supplies.

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