The finance ministry on Thursday announced that import of ventilators, test kits and personal protection gear are temporarily exempted from basic customs duty and health cess in the wake of their demand arising from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Finance ministry said in a statement that the temporary exemption from the import duty and the cess would take immediate effect and will be in force till 30 September. The statement said that the exemption also covers face masks, surgical masks, personal protection equipment and inputs for manufacturing all these items.

Basic customs duty (BCD) is the effective tariff that gives protection to domestic producers from imports and lifting of BCD allows imports to compete with locally produced items on a level playing field. Ventilators at present attract a BCD of 7.5% and a 5% health cess. “This was a much anticipated and a welcome exemption given the dire need of these goods to fight the Coronavirus pandemic in India,” said Abhishek Jain, tax partner at EY.

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