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Taxing Health Now: Govt to end exemption on imported Covid kits

To Protect Local Industry Covid Equipment Imports Should Face Import Duty & Tax.

As per cabinet’s instructions the ministry of commerce is working on a plan to end the tax exemptions on the import of Covid related medical equipment in a bid to protect local industry, said a senior official from Commerce Division.

Currently, the local industry is manufacturing Covid-related equipment and material and paying 17% general sales tax. The zero-duty regime for the import of Covid-related machinery had made the local products uncompetitive.

In March, 2020, government had exempted 61 diagnostic support and personal protective equipment (PPEs) from all duties and taxes. However, the local industry has started manufacturing equipment at home, the cabinet meeting was briefed in the last meeting.

It was decided that government should review the zero-duty regime. The local manufacturers are paying 17% sales tax, which puts them at a disadvantageous position. Following discussion, the cabinet has directed the commerce division to review the proposal and submit its recommendations.

The government has withdrawn its decision to allow the private sector to fix prices of Covid-19 vaccines and delegated such power to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP). The government is importing vaccine to administer free jabs to the people in phases.

There was a need to enable the private sector to import vaccines to administer to those segments of the society, who were not ‘on the immediate priority established by the government, under strict medical supervision in private healthcare facilities.

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