In view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Central Government has exempted IGST or integrated GST on import of such goods received free of cost for free distribution of Covid relief. The exemption is ad hoc and applicable for all specified imports made till June 30, 2021. The exemption will also cover goods already imported but lying uncleared on the date of its issuance of exemption which starts from Monday.
Government had earlier issued notification for exempting Basic Customs Duty and/or Health cess imports of a number of Covid-19 related relief materials, for a limited period. These included Remdesivir injection/ API and Beta Cyclodextrin (SBEBCD), Inflammatory diagnostic (markers) kits, imports of which have been exempted from customs till October 31, 2021. Also, imports of Medical grade Oxygen, oxygen therapy related equipment such as oxygen concentrators, cryogenic transport tanks, etc., and Covid-19 vaccines have been exempted till July 31, 2021.
This exemption (from IGST) shall thus enable import of the Covid relief supply imported free of cost for free distribution without payment of IGST (up to June 30, 2021). As customs duty is already exempt, these imports will not attract any customs duty or IGST, a finance ministry statement said.
The Central government had received a number of representations from charitable organisations, corporate entities, and other Associations/entities outside India seeking exemption from IGST on the import of Covid-19 relief material (already exempted from customs duty), donated/received free of cost from outside India for free distribution.
The IGST exemption, however, is conditional. Centre had decided that the state governments shall appoint a nodal authority for the purpose of this exemption. Such authority will then authorise any entity, relief agency or statutory body, for free distribution of such Covid-relief material.
The finance ministry statement said that goods can be imported free of cost by a state government or any entity/ relief agency/ statutory body, authorised in this regard for free distribution anywhere in India. The importer shall before clearance of goods from Customs produce a certificate from the said nodal authorities that goods are meant for free distribution for Covid relief.
Also, after imports, the importer shall produce, to the Deputy or Assistant Commissioner of Customs at the port within a period of six months from the date of importation or within such extended period not exceeding nine months, a simple statement containing details of goods imported and distributed free of cost. This statement shall be certified by the said nodal authority of the state government.