Shortage of oxygen concentrators leads to surge in imports, simplifying processes is an excellent move: RS Subramanian, DHL

The second wave of COVID-19 has created an acute need for medical supplies. The country today faces shortage of oxygen supply support and other COVID 19 related goods. The overstretched Covid hospital due to the second wave and the current challenge in oxygen necessitates that Covid care be done at home to the extent possible. The centre and state governments have taken various measures to augment the production of medical oxygen in the country. CBIC too has undertaken large-scale efforts to ease and expedite the import of oxygen concentrators to deal with this acute shortage of oxygen the country is faced with.

Commenting on the same, RS Subramanian, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, DHL Express India, says, “The need and shortage of Oxygen Concentrators in the country has led to a huge surge in import of O2 concentrators by individuals, corporates, traders and aid agencies. It is critical that these life-saving shipments get delivered at the earliest. While simplified regulations are needed to speed up the process, it is critical that shipments come with correct documentation. The decision to simplify customs process, waive duty and also reduce GST are all excellent moves to help the general public in the current crisis situation.”

There is a huge surge in imports of COVID-19 related emergency products from the USA, the EU, Far East and China by individuals, corporates for their own usage, by import traders and Aid agencies. In a welcome move, CBIC has simplified the procedures through a recent notification and instruction that will enable Express and Logistic companies to speed up clearances for emergency medical equipment – and help bring pandemic spread under control. Instruction No.07/2021-Customs clearly instructs expediting Customs clearance for Import consignments relating to COVID-19 pandemic. The IGST rate for oxygen concentrator imported by individuals has been reduced from 28% to 12% vide Notification No. 30/2021-Customs dated 1st May 2021

While there is widespread interest and action on this topic – there is a need for awareness and adherence to a few simple rules to ensure that the emergency supplies do not get stuck at border controls and customs clearance because of ignorance of shipper or consignee:
Key points the importers need to keep in mind are:
1. KYC compliance a must to proceed for clearance. The Name and Address on Airway bill & Invoice must be identical to consignees’ KYC document. It will be prudent for shipper to ensure this compliance is well understood and implemented.
2. True value – Shipper must be asked to provide the true and real value (value paid or payable). Even free of charge supplies must mention the applicable market value / purchase price
3. Clear and Complete Description with quantity
4. Be aware that Basic Duty has been exempted on Oxygen Concentrators and Remdesivir – IGST is payable . If it is a gift / free supply, well-wishers/donors may want to send shipment on DDP basis so that shipment is not stuck post clearance because duty payment is not ready. In DDP, duties and taxes can be build back to origin.
5. Complete the KYC process before shipment lands