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No denial of duty exemption for not adhering to import procedures

The CBIC has asked field offices not to deny Customs duty exemptions to importers of oxygen-related equipment merely for not adhering to import procedures during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) said the issue of non-observance of conditions of Import of Goods at Concessional Duty Rates (IGCR) has come up during audit and verification of import of such equipment.

In an instruction to field offices, the CBIC said owing to the peculiar circumstance of the Covid-19 wave, parts of medical oxygen related equipment were imported on the emergency requirement and at times are said to have been assembled at the premises of hospitals or other establishments.

Considering the medical national emergency faced by the nation, these very exceptional circumstances may have led to the importers not being able to adhere to certain procedural aspects of the IGCR.

“Considering the circumstances in which such imports were undertaken, the benefit of the exemption notification may not be denied, merely on the issue of not observing the procedure, provided that the goods so imported have been put to the intended use, i.e., in the manufacture of specified equipment related to the production, transportation, distribution or storage of Oxygen.,” the CBIC said.

It also said usage of such concessional rate imports is verifiable from “invoices and other documents showing the supply of such manufactured goods by the importer”.

The government had in April last year allowed duty-free import of oxygen, oxygen-related equipment. The exemption, which was provided to meet the increasing oxygen demands in the country during the deadly second wave of the pandemic, was valid till September.

AMRG & Associates Senior Partner Rajat Mohan said: “This is a blanket relaxation issued for procedural customs laws that would help numerous importers of Covid relief material who missed certain guidelines due to exceptional global medical emergencies in the relevant period”.

Nexdigm Executive Director- Indirect Tax Saket Patwari said the CBIC and tax authorities are generally very strict on adhering to conditions of notification.

“This is a one of its kind circular where CBIC has instructed field officers to be liberal on non-adherence of procedural conditions on account of Covid-19. This is an appreciable gesture from CBIC,” Patwari said. PTI

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