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NEW DELHI: The central government has allowed import of oxygen concentrators for personal use as gift items through post, courier or e-commerce portals for three months till 31 July.

In an amendment to the foreign trade policy, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on Friday included oxygen concentrators to the exempted list of life saving drugs, medicines and rakhi where customs clearance is sought as gifts.

This expected to ease the acute shortage in oxygen generating medical devices in the country amid a ferocious second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government had earlier cracked down on the gift route of imports as China-based online e-commerce platforms, such as Club Factory, Shein and AliExpress, have been misusing the rules and shipping cheaper products to Indian customers as gifts, thus avoiding customs duty and goods and services tax.

Oxygen concentrators can supply a continuous stream of oxygen at flow rates of up to 10 litres per minute. Cylinders can only store a fixed amount of oxygen, but concentrators capture and filter the air around you. The limitation is they need continuous power supply.

The government on Thursday had also allowed faster customs clearance on import of critical-care medical equipment, such as nebulisers, oxygen concentrators, oxygen canister, cryogenic cylinders, oxygen generators and ventilators, for up to three months, amid the unprecedented surge in covid infections and rising number of patients requiring hospitalisation.

For the time being, the Centre has also done away with the legal requirement of labelling before the goods are cleared by customs authority at the port of entry. For speedy clearance of equipment, labelling will be done after customs clearance, but before the sale of the products in the market.

Last week, the government had also waived customs duty on the import of covid vaccines and medical-grade oxygen and related equipment as the nation battles its worst health crisis with a tsunami of fresh cases being reported from across India every day. It has also waived customs duty on imported remdesivir injections and the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredients to boost supplies.

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